According to the latest information, the leaders of the East African Community (EAC) have decided to extend the mandate of the regional forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The extension is expected to last till September this year. The announcement regarding the approval of the extension of the mandate was given on Wednesday.
In order to fulfill the formal requirement with the EAC, it should also be united that the six-month extension which is in effect from March 8 also needs to be approved by the government of Kinshasa.
The decision regarding the extension of the mandate was taken during the 21st extraordinary summit of the bloc’s heads of State.
The summit was chaired by the President of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye and it took place in the capital city of Burundi, Bujumbura.
According to the final statement given by Peter Mathuki who is the EAC Secretary-General, the major aim behind the extension of the mandate of the regional force known as the East Africa Community Regional Forces(EACRF) was to consolidate the gains which were made by the force in helping to achieve a relative return to normalcy in the region of their operation.
The force was successful in helping to cease fire between the local army, which is the FARDC, and the dominant rebel group which is known as M23.
For the summit that took place in the capital city of Bujumbura, only two presidents were present for the session. While the host President Ndayishimiye and Kenyan President Willian Ruto attended the summit, the other five member states marked their presence not through their presidents but through representatives.
Instead of the President, Vice President of Tanzania Philip Mpango, Prime Minister of Rwanda Edouard Ngirente, First Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda, who is also the Minister of EAC Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, South Sudan Minister of Presidential Affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin and Leonard She Okitundu, who is the DRC’s Deputy Prime Minister and also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration were the attendees of the summit.
Felix Tshisekendi, the Congolese President initially agreed to support the extension regarding the stay of the force when the mandate expired in March.
He has also openly criticized the EACRF for refusing to take on the rebel group in the area, M23. He stated that the force was not strong and aggressive enough to put an end to the rebel groups that disturbed the peace in the area.
The major reason behind the formation of the EACRF was to put an end to the bloodshed caused by the rebel groups that mainly operated in the eastern part of Congo. But as the mandate expired in March, there had been a little confusion regarding the future of the force in the area.
The difference in opinion between the leaders of different countries also put the future of the agency in question.
Another important event that put the future of the agency in further doubt was the sudden resignation of the force’s head Major General Jeff Nyagah. He resigned from his position owing to the obstructions and threats to his safety.
Following the sudden resignation of Major General Jeff Nyagah, the position was taken over by Major General Alphaxard Muthuri Kiugu earlier in May.
Another important decision taken was regarding the communication that was made between the rebel group like M23. As per the latest information, it has been decided that all communications between the group will be handled by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Along with this the summit also made a decision regarding the resumption of the inter-Congolese talks, which was also facilitated by Uhurru Kenyatta.
The leaders who were present at the summit made the joint decision that the ongoing conflicts in the east can only be resolved sustainably through a political process and dialogue between all the parties that were involved.
Another important decision that was made at the summit was the one regarding the setting up of civilian head missions in order to coordinate and facilitate matters related to the politics of the regional force.
In a statement made by President Ruto, he said that the civilian officer would be helpful for the East African regional force and will be a shield against the political and public affairs matter. He also added that this move would make sure of the security in the region.
Following the decision and approval to extend the mandate of the armed forces in the region, the EAC Secretariat was also given instructions regarding the formation of a technical committee.
The function of the committee would be to evaluate the implication of the force’s mandate and the Secretariat was given a deadline of June 15 to do so. The secretariat is also expected to table a report regarding the events and procedure within 90 days.