Nairobi — Kenya's Chief of Defence Forces, General Francis Ogolla on Monday joined the East African Community Chiefs of Defence Forces and Chiefs of Defence Staff for an extraordinary meeting at Burundi's Capital Bujumbura to discuss the security situation in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Kenya Defence Forces said in a statement that the meeting is part of continued efforts to restore peace, security and stability in Eastern DRC which ahs been marred by violence from the M23 rebels.
The KDF highlighted the positive impact of the East African Regional Force (EACRF), which was deployed last year with the mandate to restore peace in Eastern DRC.
"The East African Regional Force (EACRF) deployed last year and mandated to restore peace in Eastern D R Congo has gradually created favourable environment making main supply routes accessible, protection of civilians, and the withdrawal of Armed Groups," KDF said.
Kenyan troops are actively involved as part of the EACRF, supporting the Congolese army in its efforts to combat the M23 rebels.
The meeting comes a few days after Kenya's Major General Aphaxard Muthuri Kiugu assumed office as the Commander of EACRF in Goma.
Kiugu took over Major General Jeff Nyagah who is now serving as the General Officer Command (GOC WESTCOM) Western on May 19.
The newly appointed Force Commander boasts of extensive experience in military leadership, command, and management in peace support operations.
He previously served as a Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, and Repatriation Officer with the UN Mission in Eastern DRC from 2003 to 2004.
Additionally, he served as the Defence Liaison Officer in Kenya's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Upon his arrival at the Force Headquarters, Major General Kiugu was welcomed by Brigadier General Emmanuel Kaputa, the Deputy Force Commander (DFC) in charge of Intelligence and Operations, Brigadier General Ndorarigonya Gregoire, DFC Administration and Logistics, Brigadier General Michael Kibuye, Chief of Staff, as well as Contingent Commanders and other Force Headquarters Staff Officers.
During his address to the EACRF officers in attendance, the Force Commander acknowledged the significant achievements made by the Regional Force since its deployment in November 2022.
These accomplishments include the successful withdrawal of the M23 from previously occupied areas and other tasks such as the protection of civilians and providing humanitarian support in the operational zones of the contingents.
Major General Kiugu emphasized the importance of adhering to the Status of Force Agreement and Rules of Engagement, urging the contingents to continually review their tactics in line with the evolving dynamics of the mission.
He encouraged the contingent commanders to share their experiences to enhance the overall effectiveness and success of the Regional Force.
"I am here to build upon the accomplishments of Major General Jeff Nyagah, and based on my assessment, you have performed admirably. However, there are lessons we can learn from past experiences that will enable us to further improve towards achieving our desired end state," he said on May 19.
"I believe in cooperation and teamwork, and I want to remind each one of us that we are united as the people of the EAC, with a shared objective of bringing peace to the citizens of Eastern DRC affected by insecurity."
The Force Commander expressed gratitude to the Heads of State of the EAC for their decision to establish a force aimed at strengthening the ongoing peace efforts, as well as the Government of DRC for its support and facilitation.
He urged everyone to remain focused on the goal and continue their efforts to ensure the full withdrawal of the M23 from the previously occupied areas, in accordance with the Luanda Roadmap.