300 Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) Troops Depart Democratic Republic of Congo Before Exit Deadline

300 Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) Troops Depart Democratic Republic of Congo Before Exit Deadline

The East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) has initiated the withdrawal of its troops from the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ahead of the December 8, 2023 expiry and non-renewal of its mandate. The first group to depart included approximately 300 Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers, with additional withdrawals expected in the coming week after a year of deployment. The phased withdrawal will commence with non-critical units and equipment backloading for movement by air and road.

The EACRF aims to ensure a smooth transition of the mission, which will be taken over by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as mandated by the Heads of States Summit in Arusha. The withdrawal was confirmed by Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces, General Francis Ogolla, who visited the KDF troops at the EACRF headquarters in Goma. Gen Ogolla praised the Kenyan contingent for their achievements in the Eastern DRC, emphasizing their role in protecting civilians and preventing armed groups from committing atrocities.

The heads of state of the East African Community directed the Chiefs of Defence Forces of EAC and SADC to submit recommendations before December 8, 2023, for consideration regarding the way forward. Despite the regional efforts to stabilize the region, the situation remains complex, with internal and external interests posing challenges to positive progress. The ceasefire brokered by Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta in the Nairobi process was violated in October, and conflict levels have returned to their initial state.

The EACRF’s deployment in Eastern DRC, although not meeting Kinshasa’s demand for engaging in battle with the M23 armed group, has been acknowledged for stabilizing the region. The withdrawal comes amid delays in the deployment of SADC troops, raising concerns about the safety of the population in Eastern DRC as the country approaches December 20 elections.


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