The Eastern Africa Standby Force – EASF’s capability to pacify the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC faces a tough test of it young life after Kenya Defense Forces – KDF and Burundi reportedly withdrew troops from the mission.
Over the weekend, Kenya recalled her troops from Bunagana, in the North Kivu Province near the Uganda-DRC border. The move was perceived as a red flag for the collapse of the regional forces comprising the military, police and civilian components.
URN understands that a contingent of 200 KDF deployed in DRC, as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission – MONUSCO were recalled DRC allegedly breached its commitment and attacked the Mach 23 Movement – M23, a Congolese-Tutsi rebel sites ahead of negotiations.
In response, the M23 militants, which DRC government accuses neighboring Rwanda of backing to undermine her sovereignty retaliated against the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) troops in Rutshuru areas forcing at least 20,000 civilians to flee their homes to seek refuge in Uganda.
Notably, during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly held in New York City on September 20, 2022, the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi in his speech accused the Kigali administration of empowering the rebel groups to ravage his territory but Rwanda has continually refuted the claims.
The Human Rights Watch in its October report accused DRC army of backing the Rwandan Hutu rebel group in a several armed clashes with the M23 militia. The international non-governmental organization, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights said the Congolese military had armed and fought alongside a coalition of militias implicated in abuses.
This included the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group based in the DRC which the Rwandan government views as a threat and has regularly counter accused the Kinshasa administration of supporting. In August, a report by United Nations independent experts faulted Kigali for providing direct support to the M23.
Established in 2004 following the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the EASF was to be a regional mechanism to provide capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out preventive deployment, rapid intervention, peace – stability operations and peace enforcement.
the question now is whether the 10 states that include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, which are signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding on the creation will deliver on this noble mandate.