The Kenyan leader of a regional force dispatched to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to combat militia violence announced his resignation due to obstruction and threats to his safety, raising questions about the mission’s viability.
The EACRF military force was established by the seven members of the East African Community (EAC) in April in an effort to put an end to the violence brought on by decades of terrorist activity in eastern Congo.
However, the EAC leaders have expressed different opinions on how it should function since its mandate expired last month, with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi demanding a more assertive stance than the peacekeeping mandate suggested by others.
Major General Jeff Nyagah, the unit’s leader, announced in a letter dated Thursday that he was resigning because of a “aggravated threat” to his safety and a “systematic plan” to thwart the activities of the force.
Sources in the diplomatic community and the Congolese government attested to the letter’s veracity.
In it, Nyagah claimed that in January, foreign military contractors were dispatched to examine his home and install monitoring equipment, which led to his forced relocation.
The M23 rebel group, which started an offensive in east Congo last year, was accused of being soft on the EACRF, and he said that he was the subject of planned “negative media campaigns” that made this claim.
A push by the Congolese government to rotate the commander position every three months was also highlighted by him.
“My security as the Force Commander is not guaranteed,” Nyagah declared. “The ongoing annoyance has made my mission impossible.”
No one from the army or the Congolese government was available for comment. The presence of foreign military contractors in Congo as “instructors” has previously been recognized by the communications minister, Patrick Muyaya.
A representative for the EAC declined to respond to the accusations.
On Friday, the Kenyan Ministry of Defense announced Nyagah’s appointment to a position in domestic command.
Since the beginning of the year, Congo has been vocal in its criticism of the EACRF, alleging that it hasn’t done enough to control the M23. The EACRF’s mandate renewal is still up for debate.