East Africa force combating Congo violence extended to December, bloc says
PHOTO CAPTION: Members of the Ugandan army, part of the troops to the East Africa Community Regional Force (EACRF), stand at a settlement ceded by M23 rebels fighters to EACRF soldiers in Bunagana, Rutshuru territory of the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo April 19, 2023. REUTERS/Arlette Bashizi/File Photo
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The mandate of an East African force set up to curb militia violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been extended to December, the regional bloc that formed it said.
The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC) set up the force in April 2022 to stop bloodshed linked to decades of militant activity in Congo's east.
Its term was due to expire on Friday but heads of state of member countries meeting in the Kenyan capital extended the mandate to December, EAC said in a statement posted on its account on X, formerly known as Twitter, late on Tuesday.
"The heads of state agreed to extend the duration for a further three months," EAC said.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi was at one time openly critical of the regional force, known as the EACRF.
He accused it of not being aggressive enough and failing to rein in the M23 rebel group, which launched an offensive in the east of the country last year.
Violence in Congo has caused one of the world's worst and longest-running humanitarian emergencies, with more than 27 million people facing food shortages, and nearly 5.5 million forced to flee their homes, according to the U.N.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa; editing by Robert Birsel)