Parliament demands immediate withdrawal of SSPDF from DRC

Parliament demands immediate withdrawal of SSPDF from DRC

The Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (RTNLA) is calling on the Ministry of Defence to urgently withdraw the SSDPF from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stephen Lual, a member of parliament representing Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, questioned the government on its plan for the SSPDF peace forces in DR Congo, citing growing insecurity in the area.

The government in Kinshasa had announced December 8 as the deadline for the regional forces stationed in the eastern DRC to leave the area.

Most regional peacekeeping-contributing countries, including Kenya, had already airlifted their forces back home last Sunday.

The withdrawal of a regional force is now a matter of urgency after Kinshasa did not renew its mandate to fight M23 rebels. The exodus of the peacekeepers implies that South Sudan must move with speed and airlift her battalion to avoid diplomatic fissures that may occur after the deadline.

Lual said, the deadline for East African forces to withdraw their forces from Congo is coming to an end, yet SSPDF are still stuck in eastern DRC due to what he said logistical challenges.

“What will the future of the forces be with the insecurity and the ongoing conflict in Congo? We need to help these people and find ways of providing planes to airlift them from Congo to South Sudan since all the East African countries have withdrawn their forces.”

“We have learned that the deadline for the East African Regional Peace Forces to evacuate Congo is on the 8th of this month. All East African forces withdraw their forces except our 750 forces, who are still there due to a lack of logistics,” the lawmaker stated.

 However, the speaker of the transitional national parliament, Jemma Nunu, said the government is aware of the decision of the DRC government for the East African peace forces to leave.

 “We are aware of the decision of the government of the DRC for the East African forces to leave. Through the committee for defence, they will take up the information with the Ministry of Defense because everybody is facilitating their forces to go back to their country.”

On Monday, the Spokesperson of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai, told The City Review that the SSPDF peace mission to the DR Congo would come back home soon although he was uncertain about the date.

“I can confirm to you, yes, that the East African regional forces have started to withdraw and Kenya is taking the lead, meaning that our forces will also withdraw from Congo and will also come back home, but I don’t know when they will arrive home,” Lul said.

He added:  “I am sure they will be airlifted together with the Kenyan troops because the other day, the Kenyan government airlifted our troops. I can confirm that the forces will come back from Congo.”

The 750 soldiers were airlifted from Juba International Airport in April to Goma, in eastern DR Congo, to join an East African force fighting rebel groups after 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 the Congo.

The special battalion of 750 soldiers was a combination of various units of the SSPDF, including the military police, national security, and engineering corps, among others.