Southern Africa: EAC, SADC Chiefs of Defence Forces to Discuss the Next Steps for the Nairobi Process On DRC

Rwandan President Paul Kagame with the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and her delegation during "constructive discussions focused on ways to de-escalate tensions and address the root causes of the security situation in eastern DRC."
24 November 2023

Nairobi — The Chiefs of Defence Forces from the East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) States have been mandated to discuss the next steps for the Nairobi Process on the restoration of peace the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The decision was made Friday following an extensive closed-door discussion addressing various regional issues, with a primary focus on the security situation in Eastern DRC at the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State.

It came at a time when the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and allied troops have intensified campaigns against the M23 rebels in the Central African State.

"With regard to the Nairobi Process, the EAC summit directs the CDFs of EAC and SADC to meet and submit their recommendation on the way forward to the Defence Ministers for onward transmission to the summit for consideration," Burundi's President Évariste Ndayishimiye (Summit Chairperson) said when he conveyed the outcomes of the meeting through a joint communique.

The development also came a month after the EAC proposed an extension of the mandate of the East African Community Regional Forces (EACRF) until lasting peace is restored.

Kenya's Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale revealed that the proposal was made during an extra-ordinary meeting of Defence ministers from the East African Community (EAC) in Tanzania's capital, Arusha on October 9.

The meeting was convened to address pressing regional security concerns, with a primary focus on the ongoing instability in Eastern DRC due to the activities of the M23 rebels.

"In light of the gains made by the East African Community Regional Forces (EACRF), the sitting proposed an extension of their occupancy until peace and stability is fully restored," Duale said.

EAC-backed troops

He stated that Kenya which is one of the Troops Contributing Countries (TCC) welcomed the move and committed to support the quest for peace in the economic development of the DRC.

EACRF comprises of troops drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Present in the meeting were Ministers of Defense Alain Tribert Mutabazi (Burundi and Chair of EAC Council of Defense Ministers), Stergomena Lawrence (Tanzania), Vincent Ssempijja (Uganda), Jean-Pierre Bemba (DRC) and Representative of South Sudan.

In September, the EAC Heads of States resolved to extend the mandate of EACRF to stay in the DRC for a further three months.

The decision was made following a meeting between Presidents William Ruto (Kenya), Evariste Nayishimiye (Burundi), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Samia Suluhu (Tanzania) jn Nairobi.

The meeting also included Prime Minister Jean Sama (DRC) and the first Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda Rebecca Kadaga.

"The heads of state agreed to extend the duration of the mandate of the EACRF and the status of the forces agreement for a further period of three months as from September 9, 2023, to December 8, 2023, pending an evaluation report from the council of ministers," a statement from the East African Community read.

The initial mandate of the EACRF was set to expire on September 8, following an extension granted on May 31, 2023.

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