EAC defence chiefs meet to plan for regional force in DRC

Chiefs of Defence Forces (CDFs) from the East African Community (EAC) met in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, to agree on the initial modalities of establishing a regional force that will assist in the restoration of peace and security in the Country.

The meeting on Monday, June 6, is a follow up of the Heads of States Conclave held in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 21, 2022, that directed on planning, accelerated establishment and urgent deployment of a regional force to commence with immediate effect.

The team is supposed to help contain and, where necessary, fight the negative forces in Eastern DRC.

DRC Chief of General Staff Gen Célestin Mbala Munsense reiterated the willingness to restore peace in Eastern DRC and the East African sub-region by the EAC Heads of State.

“It is on the basis of the recommendation by the EAC Heads of State Conclave in Nairobi that the President of DRC instructed me to invite you to this strategic meeting to implement the Military/Security Enforcement Track,” he said.

He added the regional Heads of State have called upon the local Armed groups to surrender and lay down their arms unconditionally, cease hostilities and return to their countries of origin.

Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi who is also the chairman of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Forces of the EAC Partner States noted that Congo was admitted as a new member into the EAC, technically expanding the community from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.

“This will not only expand the community’s market by an additional 90 million people but will also enhance the regional economic and social cooperation and allow citizens to share experiences,” he said.

The CDF further said that for this aspiration to be fully realised, peace and security are of utmost importance and this is the very reason they met.

Gen Kibochi further emphasized that the peace and security agenda is a critical pillar in anchoring the EAC’s integration process subsequently, security and stability in the area are vital for regional prosperity as they will provide a conducive environment upon which all other aspects of regional integration shall thrive.

“We must therefore collectively as a region, support efforts to address security challenges and restore peace and stability in the Eastern DRC to allow our people to exploit the full potential offered by regional integration.”

He also said options for force sustainability ought to be given the highest priority with a clear coordination mechanism with other actors within the theatre that will be necessary to guarantee synergy in operation.

Recent attempts to stop the violence militarily have proven unsuccessful, and in some cases backfired, security analysts and human rights groups say.

Congo imposed martial law in its eastern Ituri and North Kivu provinces in May 2021 and began joint operations with Uganda’s army in November against the Islamist group, known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The ADF often murders civilians in retaliation for military campaigns against it, human rights groups and security analysts say.

It killed more than 1,200 people in 2021, up almost 50 per cent from the previous year, according to the UN

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