The March 23 Movement (M23) rebels have reportedly started withdrawing and handing over their bases in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF).
The move was confirmed by the Ugandan military on Sunday. Ahmad Hassan Kato, military spokesperson for the Ugandan contingent, said in a statement that the Ugandan contingent of the EACRF officially occupied the areas of Bunagana in North Kivu Province after M23 left the area.
“Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has deployed in the general areas of Bunagana where they have set a foothold as they give M23 time to also vacate the general areas of Rutshuru, Kiwanja and Mabenga as agreed,” said Kato.
The withdrawal comes after Uganda sent 1,000 troops on a regional peacekeeping mission in the eastern DRC last Wednesday.
The move followed the decision adopted by regional leaders at the third East African Community Heads of State Conclave on Peace and Security in the eastern DRC held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi last June.
Ugandan troops have now joined Kenyan, Burundian, and Angolan counterparts on the ground to bring lasting peace to the eastern DRC.
“This marks a major step in the ongoing efforts to bring peace and stability to the eastern DRC,” said Kato.
“We remain committed to working with our regional partners to ensure that the people of the DRC can enjoy the peace and security they deserve.”
The East African country also has other troops in the eastern DRC in a joint military operation with the Congolese army against the Allied Democratic Forces rebels.