Uganda withdraws troops from East Africa force in DR Congo: Army

AFP , Wednesday 13 Dec 2023

Uganda's army announced on Wednesday the withdrawal of its soldiers from the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were serving in a regional security force.

File Photo: Members of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) position themselves on the Ugandan side of the border town in Bunagana, Democratic Republic of Congo. AFP


The East African Community force was deployed in late 2022 but, like a UN peacekeeping effort in the DRC, faced heavy criticism from Kinshasa for failing to stop rebel-backed violence.

"We have brought our forces back home and we believe we achieved the mission's goals," Felix Kulayigye, spokesman for the Uganda People's Defence Force, told AFP.

More than 1,500 South Sudan, Kenya, and Burundi soldiers who were also part of the regional force have already left the country.

The Kenyan and South Sudanese soldiers still present are expected to depart at the beginning of January.

East African troops began arriving in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province along the border with Rwanda and Uganda, in November 2022, about a year after the resurgence of the M23 rebel group.

Independent UN experts, the government in Kinshasa, and several Western nations including the United States and France, accuse Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led M23, which Kigali denies.

The regional force was invited to liberate territory under M23 control but the government deemed them ineffective, and announced in November it would not extend the East African mandate beyond December 8.

To replace it, the DRC is counting in particular on troops from the Southern African Community (SADC).

The departure of regional forces comes as fighting rages between M23 and Congolese government troops backed by allied militias.

Numerous armed groups and other militias have fought for three decades in eastern DRC, a legacy of regional wars that broke out in the 1990s and 2000s.

General elections, in which outgoing President Felix Tshisekedi is standing, are scheduled for December 20.

Voting will not take place in two territories of North Kivu due to the M23 rebellion

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