The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Francis Ogolla has commended troops under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) troops for achieving significant milestones since their deployment in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This was conveyed during his command visit to DRC on Saturday, 2nd December 2023, when he visited EACRF Force Headquarters and addressed Kenyan troops stationed in Goma, Kibumba Forward Operating Base, and Kibati Logistics Base within Nyiragongo territory, North Kivu.

The CDF also paid a courtesy call to the FARDC Land Forces Commander, Lieutenant General Fall Sikabwe Asinda, where both deliberated on security matters within the Joint Operation Area (JOA). Through him, the CDF also relayed gratitude to the leadership of DRC and FARDC as well as communities in the JOA for their goodwill during the duration of the mission. He reiterated Kenya’s commitment to continue participating in regional peace initiatives until Eastern DRC realises peace and security.

At the EACRF Headquarters, the CDF was welcomed by Force Commander (FC) EACRF Major General Aphaxard Kiugu, accompanied by Deputy Force Commanders Brigadier General Emmanuel Kaputa (DRC), Brigadier General Gregoire Ndorarigonya (Burundi), Chief of Staff Brigadier General Michael Kibuye (Uganda), Chief of Operations Colonel Jok Akech (South Sudan), and other key Staff Officers.

The FC briefed the CDF on the current security situation and achievements of EACRF guided by the mandate.

Notably, the timely deployment of EACRF, where the Kenyan Contingent came into the theatre being the first in November 2022, a fact that has given credit to the military strategy of deterrence through presence, posture and engaging with local communities.

Since its deployment, EACRF has been successful in preventing an imminent threat to Goma town, Goma International Airport, and enabled the withdrawal of M23 from areas close to Goma along Nationa Road number 2 and Provincial Road number 1030. As a result, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 entered into a ceasefire agreement that has been holding until it was breached in October 2023.

In his address, General Ogolla noted the partial return to normalcy in all areas where EACRF troops were deployed in JOA.

While addressing the Kenyan troops at the Force Headquarters, General Ogolla relayed seasons greetings from H.E Dr William Samoei Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces. He further commended their professional conduct under EACRF and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). He highlighted that such professionalism contributes to Kenya’s recognition as a key contributor to Peace Support Operations in the region and beyond. Kenyan troops comprised those serving with EACRF and MONUSCO.

Similarly, he had the opportunity to meet officers serving with both organisations and, in addition, those from EAC Monitoring and Verification Mechanism and Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism.

“We must always act professionally within the law and respect the constitution of the Host Nation. I must thank the Government of DRC for being a great host and for providing the necessary support to EACRF despite the inherent challenges,” said the CDF.

He called on the troops to remain unified and vigilant, as the EACRF mission enters a transition phase following the non-renewal of the EACRF mandate by the Host Nation beyond 8th December 2023, and the planned deployment of the South African Development Community (SADC) troops.

A similar message was delivered to troops at Kibumba Forward Operating Base and Kibati Logistics Base, where General Ogolla emphasized the need for collective responsibility of the East African Community to protect the Congolese people.

“When given a mission, be focused, keep track of your progress, and do your part until the mission is complete. In any international mission, we must always respect and appreciate each other’s values, culture, and customs,” said the CDF.

The CDF’s visit comes at a time when the security situation in Eastern DRC is uncertain following breach of the ceasefire.

Present during the visit were Chief of Strategic Communications Brigadier Zipporah Kioko, Colonel Benson Njogu, Colonel Mohamed Sirat, Kenyan Contingent Commander Col Daniel Rotich, Battle Group Commanding Officer Lt Col Dennis Obiero, Defence Forces Sergeant Major WOI Elijah Koranga among and other contingent Senior Officers and Officers.

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