As the mandate of the East African Community regional force in DR Congo expires on December 8, the Congolese government has informed the summit of EAC leaders that it will not extend it.
The summit held on Friday, November 24, directed the chiefs of defence staff for EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to meet before December 8 and deliberate the way forward for the regional force's mandate.
Their recommendations will be submitted for the next summit.
SADC is expected to deploy a military mission to eastern DR Congo in December.
The EAC regional force was deployed in November 2022 to support peace efforts and especially observe the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group, which fights the Congolese army in North Kivu province.
The regional force, with troops from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan, currently occupies the rebels' vacated positions.
However, the Congolese government has urged the regional force to fight the M23, which was not part of its mandate. Its first force commander resigned in April, citing threats to his personal security.
In September, the regional force's mandate was extended for three months.
Eastern DR Congo, which is home to more than 130 local and foreign armed groups, has been volatile for nearly three decades.
Multiple interventions, including one of the UN's longest and largest peacekeeping missions, MONUSCO, failed to end the decades of violence.
The 25-year-old UN mission in the country has been the target of demonstrations for failing to end the insecurity and plans to withdraw starting from December.
The EAC said in September that the UN was considering funding the regional force.