•The current mandate was to expire on September 8.
• The force is credited with enabling the ceasefire that currently exist between the M23 and the DRC’s forces FARDC to hold, enabling a gradual return to normalcy.
The KDF-led mission of East Africa Community militaries in the Eastern DRC region of Goma has been extended by three months amid brewing mass discontent.
This is the second extension since the operation in the DRC’s North Kivu province started in November last year.
The initial mandate was to run for six months but upon expiry in March 2023, the leaders extended it in May amid the swirling hostility especially directed by the public against the KDF officers. The current mandate was to expire on September 8.
The new mandate runs from September 9 to December 8.
Residents of Goma region have not been happy with the Eacraf mission because they complain that the troops have avoid confronting the numerous armed groups that have terrorising the public.
The local society is hugely fragmented along ethnic lines and armed groups have proliferated ostensibly to fend off attacks.
The charge by local opinion shapers against KDF-led mission is that it had compromised with the groups, chief among them being the M23.
But KDF’s defence has always maintained that they are not in the populous country to fight a war because that strategy has not succeeded for decades.
They are there to oversee the withdrawal of the M23 group from the civilian spaces to their agreed cantonment areas, the mission chief commander Alphaxad Kiugu has said.
He has insisted the operation of the force that has contributory troops from Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan in strict compliance with the direction of the heads state summit as communicated to them through their defence chiefs.
The public disaffection has manifested from time to time with violent demonstrations being staged as well as criticism by the opinion leaders.
On Tuesday, heads of state from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and South Sudan led by Kenya’s William Ruto allowed extension of the force’s mandate by three months to provide for better observing the security situation of the country before making a substantive move.
DRC’s Felix Tsishekedi was represented by his Prime Minister Jean Michel Sama Lukonde while Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was represented by his first deputy prime minister and minister for East Africa Community Affairs Rebecca Kadaga.
The force is credited with enabling the ceasefire that currently exist between the M23 and the DRC’s forces FARDC to hold, enabling a gradual return to normalcy.
Kinshasa, led by President Tsishekedi, has been saying it was using the same play book that UN’s mission MONUSCO has used as a peace keeping mission and not being in the theatre of war.
But in its communique that announced the Tuesday extension, the EAC Secretariat led by secretary general Peter Mathuki said the presidents “took note of the milestones achieved by the regional force towards restoration of security in Eastern DRC, pursuant to the previous directives of the summit on the implementation of the Nairobi-led process”.
“The heads of state agreed to extend the duration of the mandate of the Eacraf and the status of the forces agreement for a further three months from September 9 to December 8, 2023, pending an evaluation report from the council of ministers,” the statement reads.
The force continues to observe the orderly withdrawal of the groups to the agreed cantonments while also ensuring that the main supply routes remain opened.