The withdrawal process of 1,000 Ugandan troops engaged in a peacekeeping mission in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has commenced, as per an announcement from the military issued on Friday.
This decision follows Kinshasa’s choice not to extend the mandate of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) beyond December 8.
The phased withdrawal, involving both operational forces and equipment, which began in March 2023, is scheduled to conclude on January 7, 2024.
“UPDF will ensure to expedite the pull-out of its forces and equipment within the approved timelines as enshrined in the extra ordinary meeting of EAC CDFS (Chief of Defense Forces) held on Dec. 6,” said Capt. Ahmad Hassan Kato, UPDF’s contingent spokesperson.
The meetings held in Arusha, Tanzania, by the CDF supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s resolution.
They advised EAC defense ministers to formally halt operations of EACRF in the extensive eastern region of the country, starting immediately on December 8th.
Troops from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and South Sudan were sent in accordance with the resolution supported and approved by leaders in the region during the third East African Community Heads of State Conclave on Peace and Security in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, last June.
“Uganda contingent urges all armed groups (in Eastern DRC) to facilitate the withdrawal of the UPDF troops by observing total ceasefire so as to allow the forces exit from the mission area safely,” said Kato.
Uganda has committed additional forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of a collaborative military effort with Congolese counterparts.
The military states that these troops will continue pursuing the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces.