At least 300 South Sudan People’s Defense Forces soldiers are heading to the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the East Africa Community Regional Force.
In December last year, the country started the process of deploying 750 soldiers on a combat mission to the region wracked by rebel insurgencies.
The battalion was equipped to take part in the regional intervention forces being deployed to end the conflict mainly between the DRC government and the M23 rebel group.
South Sudan army has now contributed a total of 1,050 troops to the regional forces.
Speaking at the Army Headquarters in Bilpam yesterday, the Acting Minister of Defense General Chol Thon Balok urged the soldiers to show discipline and adherence to international laws.
“When you wear the military uniform, you have to abide by the laws of the United Nations, and you have to know how to deal with the citizens,” Balok said.
“You can learn this information from your colleagues who preceded you and traveled to the Congo. Therefore, you must be disciplined and not talk about what does not concern you, and you have to respect the citizens there and not harm them.”
In 2020, the Heads-of-state of the East African Community (EAC) resolved to send a joint force to deal with multiple armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This is the first time South Sudan has deployed forces to a foreign peacekeeping mission since independence.
According to The EastAfrican, the DRC government has agreed to retain the East Africa Community Regional Force (EACRF) on its territory, even though the actual terms for the mission will be re-negotiated.
The details emerged after representatives of the East African Community partner and their Chiefs of Defence Forces met in Bujumbura to review the performance of EACRF, six months after the decision to deploy.
The meeting in Burundi reportedly agreed that the EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki formally writes to Kinshasa to ask for the renewal of the expired Status of Force Agreement, which will enable the troop contributing countries to fully deploy.
Kenya and Burundi already deployed while South Sudan and Ugandan troops are “to deploy by March 30” according to a dispatch from the meeting.
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