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Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, SSPDF spokesperson

South Sudan withdraws peacekeeping troops in eastern DR Congo

South Sudan has completed the withdrawal of it’s 301 strong peacekeeping forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesperson of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) told Juba Echo on Sunday in Juba, the capital of South Sudan that all the forces that had been deployed in December 2022, as part of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) have been withdrawn from the volatile North Kivu region of DRC.

“We had announced the deployment of 750 but then we airlifted 301, they said that was enough, we stationed the rest at Gangura in Western Equatoria state. The ones that we brought back on Friday they are now on standby on the outskirts Juba to respond to any regional threat. It is not a threat against South Sudan but against any against any EAC country,” said Koang.

South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state shares a border with DRC.

The withdrawal of the South Sudanese troops comes after the regional trade bloc East African Community officially announced on Nov.25 that the DRC would not renew the mandate of the regional force beyond Dec. 8, 2023.

Since November 2022, this regional force, consisting of Ugandan, Burundian and South Sudanese elements, has been stationed in the eastern part of the DRC in response to renewed conflicts between the DRC military and the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi intends to replace the EAC Regional Force with a force deployed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). However, details about this deployment remain unclear, with plans indicating a deployment within a few months without specific clarification.

The withdrawal of the EAC Regional Force coincides with the DRC’s preparations for presidential, legislative and local elections scheduled for Dec. 20.

Notably, several areas in eastern DRC, still under rebel occupation, will be excluded from these elections due to inadequate voter registration

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