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UPDF takes over Bunagana town in DRC after M23 withdrawal

The UPDF on Friday crossed the Uganda-DRC border to deploy in Bunagana, Kiwanja and Mabenga within Rutshuru, marking a critical milestone and the final phase towards full deployment of the EACRF.

UPDF soldiers position themselves on the Ugandan side of the border town in Bunagana, Democratic Republic of Congo, while awaiting deployment last week. AFP Photo

KINSHASHA, DRC: The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) under East African Community Regional Forces (EACRC) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday captured areas of Bunagana in eastern DRC for a peacekeeping mission after M23 rebels fled the area.

“Today, April 2, 2023, 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,” read a statement sent to the media by Capt Ahmad Hassan Kato, the Spokesperson for the EACRF Uganda contingent.

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“UPDF appreciates the leadership of M23 for being cooperative to the contingent and according to our peacekeepers’ safe passage and successful occupation of Bunagana. M23 is also expected to cooperate when the time comes for UPDF to occupy Rushuru, Kiwanja and Mabenga areas respectively.”

The UPDF on Friday crossed the Uganda-DRC border to deploy in Bunagana, Kiwanja and Mabenga within Rutshuru, marking a critical milestone and the final phase towards full deployment of the EACRF.

During their stay in DRC, the army is supposed to oversee M23’s sequenced withdrawal, protect civilians and open Bunagana-Goma areas.

In November last year, Kenya deployed over 900 troops to eastern DRC following a meeting between the East African Community heads of state and a subsequent meeting by the defence forces commanders from the region.

EACRC will be under the command of Maj. Gen. Jeff Nyaga from Kenya. The soldiers are supposed to supervise the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group, which had conquered territory in eastern DR Congo since taking up arms again in late 2021.

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