Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) on Friday completed the withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn province of North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This followed the refusal by the Democratic Republic Congo government to renew the mandate of East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) troops that were in the province under a peacekeeping mission that expired on December 8, 2023.
A section of civilians and political activists accused the troops of failure to launch an assault against the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels.
Colonel Michael Walaka Hyeroba Commander of the Ugandan troops told journalists after stepping on the Ugandan side of Bunagana in Kisoro district that all the troops that had been deployed under the 9th and 27th Battalions in Rutshuru territory have been fully withdrawn with their equipment.
Hyeroba however lamented that the decision to withdraw EACRF troops from North Kivu province was done prematurely because the disarmament and Integration program were not achieved
Hyeroba suggested that the problem in the area can only be solved by dialogue, not war. The mandate of troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan deployed in North Kivu province in late 2022 was to reclaim positions that were previously held by the M23 rebels after they defeated the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers and to establish a buffer zone to prevent further clashes between M23 rebels and FARDC soldiers.
This was in accordance to resolutions made and approved by the East African Regional Heads of State Conclave held on April, 21 2022 in Nairobi, Extra-Ordinary Summit of East African presidents (Bujumbura) on February 4, 2023, and the decisions of the Chief of Defense Forces of February 9, 2023 in Nairobi.