EACRF lessons will form part of future “peace instruments” – Mathuki

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Lessons learnt during the previous deployment of its reaction force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be used by the East African Community (EAC) to strengthen its role as “primary guarantor of peace and security in the region”.

This includes ongoing effort to restore peace and stability in the eastern DRC, a regional bloc statement said after an EACRF (East African Community Regional Force) flag handover in Arusha, Tanzania. The ceremony brought to an official end the EACRF deployment which exited the DRC on 21 December.

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki told those attending the flag handover that lessons learnt from the EACRF deployment presented opportunities for the regional grouping to strengthen its role as guarantor of peace and security in the region by institutionalising EACRF achievements.

Going forward the EAC will seek to strengthen its ability to respond to partner states peace and security challenges by reinforcing regional force successes of through appropriate policies, guidelines, frameworks and instruments pegged on best global practices.

“The development of key instruments will further enable the EAC to respond more effectively to regional peace and security challenges through holistic conflict management.

“From this experience, the EAC has proven to be adaptable to handle security challenges and can be relied on as an able partner to respond to complex conflicts affecting the region,” Mathuki is reported as saying.

Among EAC successes reported were partial opening of main supply routes linking Goma-Rutshuru, Bunagana-Rutshuru, Sake-Mushake and Sake-Kitchanga-Mweso, enabling free movement of goods and people. Additionally the regional force “helped defuse direct physical threats to Goma and Sake towns,” EACRF Commander Major General Aphaxard Kiugu told the flag handover.

“The sum effect of these actions was the gradual return of internally displaced persons to their homes, especially in Sake, Kirolirwe, Kitchanga and Mweso, in Masisi territory and in Kibumba, Rumangabo, Kiwanja and Bunagana in Nyiragongo and Rutshuru territories” according to Kiugu.