The incoming East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) Commander Maj. Gen. Aphaxard Muthuri Kiugu assumed office in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, May 18. This was about a week after DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi cast a shadow over the mandate of the EAC regional force deployed to his country’s conflict-ridden eastern region. During a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, May 9, the Congolese leader indicated that EACRF might leave his country in June if the results of its mission are not satisfactory. ALSO READ: Tshisekedi threatens to kick out EAC force The new Force Commander replaces his compatriot, Maj Gen Jeff Nyagah, who – it is believed – resigned in April citing “an aggravated threat” to his personal safety. NEW EACRF FORCE COMMANDER ASSUMES OFFICE 1/12 The incoming East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) Commander Major General Aphaxard Muthuri Kiugu assumed office in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, 18th May, 2023. pic.twitter.com/63RazHULqN — EACRF DRC (@eacrf_DRC) May 19, 2023 According to the regional body, the Kenyan officer brings to the Mission wealth of experience in military leadership, command and management in peace support operations having been previously deployed as a Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation Officer while serving with the UN Mission in eastern DR Congo (MONUSCO) from 2003 to 2004. He has also served as Defence Liason Officer in Kenya’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York. ALSO READ: DR Congo: Of an EAC force commander’s exit and mismatched expectations The regional force has troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan. Gen. Kiugu was received at the Force Headquarters by the Deputy Force Commander (DFC) in charge of Intelligence and Operations - Brig Gen Emmanuel Kaputa, DFC Administration and Logistics, Brig Gen Ndorarigonya Gregoire, Chief of Staff, Brig Gen Michael Kibuye, Contingent Commanders and other Force Headquarters Staff Officers. In his address to the EACRF officers present, the Force Commander noted that the Regional Force has achieved significant milestones since the deployment in November 2022, including ensuring the withdrawal of M23 from previously occupied spaces and other tasks such as the protection of civilians and humanitarian support in the contingent’s areas of operation. ALSO READ: How many foreign forces are in DR Congo? He instructed the contingents to operate guided by the Status of Force Agreement and Rules of Engagement and advised them to keep reviewing tactics in conformity with the mission-changing dynamics so as to remain effective in the ongoing peace and stability efforts. He also encouraged the contingent commanders to share their experiences for the benefit and success of the Regional Force. He said: “I am coming to pick from where Maj Gen Jeff Nyagah left and according to my assessment, you have done well. However, there are certainly lessons that we can learn from past experience, that can enable us to improve towards achievement of the desired end state. “I believe in cooperation and teamwork and I want to remind each one of us that we are one people of EAC with a common objective.” ALSO READ: EAC troops failed, says DR Congo's foreign minister The common objective, he noted, is that of enabling the citizens of eastern DR Congo that are affected by insecurity to realize peace. He thanked the EAC Heads of State for finding it wise to establish a force intended to augment the current peace efforts in place, and the Government of DR Congo for the necessary facilitation. The new force commander implored all to maintain the aim, remain focused, and continue with the efforts of ensuring M23 fully withdraws from the areas they occupied earlier to the designated localities per the Luanda Roadmap agreed upon in November 2022. “We shall continue cooperating and collaboration with all stakeholders operating in the region including the various civil society entities so that we can leverage each other’s efforts and ideas,” added the Force Commander. In February, at an extraordinary summit of the EAC Heads of State held in Bujumbura, Burundi, Tshisekedi was captured on video confronting Gen Nyagah, in the presence of Kenyan President William Ruto. A visibly infuriated Tshisekedi told Gen Nyagah to fight the M23 rebels or risk the wrath of the Congolese population.