South Sudanese troops join East African Community force in eastern DRC

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South Sudanese soldiers arrived in Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday as part of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) military force.

The force, which also includes Kenyan, Burundian, Ugandan, and Angolan troops, was created last June to bring stability to the restive eastern DRC, plagued by dozens of armed groups since the regional wars of the 1990s and 2000s.

The EAC force is due to supervise the planned pull-back of M23 rebels, who have captured swaths of territory since re-emerging from dormancy in late 2021.

The deployment followed a decision endorsed and adopted by regional leaders at the third East African Community Heads of State Conclave on Peace and Security held in Nairobi last June.

“Welcome to Goma. Now you are in a different operational environment. You have to be ready,” said Colonel Jok Akech, an officer with the EAC force, addressing the South Sudanese arrivals. It is not yet clear how large the South Sudanese contingent will be or where it will deploy. In December, South Sudan said it would send 750 soldiers to the DRC.