Congo-Kinshasa: Regional Force Takes Over Town After M23 Withdrawal

The East African Community Regional Forces (EACRF) deployed in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have taken over two territories formally under control of the M23 fighters.

This was reached on Saturday, December 31 in a meeting between officials from the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), the ad Hoc Verification Mechanism and Extended Joint Mechanism at Kibumba to assess the progress of the ongoing coordinated, sequenced and systematic withdrawal of M23 from the Eastern DRC.

The M23 earlier last month agreed to withdraw from its positions in Kibumba, 20 kilometres from Goma.

On Saturday, chaired by the force commander Major General Jeff Nyagah, the East African regional force delegation acknowledged the withdrawal of the M23 from Kibumba and the successful takeover of the area by EACRF forces as a critical milestone in compliance with the Luanda communique of November 23, 2022.

However, the parties remained concerned with the ongoing hostilities against innocent civilians and the lack of ceasefire by the parties to the conflict which had led to deterioration of the security situation in the same region.

In the meeting, it was resolved that in addition to Kubumba, the M23 is set to commence a well coordinated, sequenced and systematic withdrawal from the occupied areas of Rumagambo by January 5. and subsequently Kishishe, with EACRF concurrently deploying forces to take over the vacated positions.

The force commander reiterated the need for all parties to the conflict in Eastern DRC to immediately observe the ceasefire as outlined in the Luanda communique of November 23, 2022. He called for an immediate cessation of targeted attacks on civilians who continue to bare the brunt of the ongoing conflict.

He said that an independent investigation into the killings in Kishishe is inevitable and those culpable will be held responsible with an urge to those who ran away to return and give account of the incidents.

“The local leadership must take lead in resettlement of IDPs in areas vacated by the M23 and subsequently occupied by the EACRF and i appeal to humanitarian agencies to enhance aid to the affected. Vandalism and looting of property belonging to the people of East DRC by any party must be brought to immediate stop,” he said.

Last week, Major General Nyagah briefed the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa, on the overall security situation in Eastern DRC, the current progress on the EACRF deployment, the ongoing operations and future plans of the force.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the M23 fighters have committed to fully comply with the Luanda communique on the total withdrawal from areas under their control to the designated areas and further to the East African Community Chiefs of defence forces decision of December 16 in Dar es Salam.