The Burundian military has formally requested the withdrawal of both the Congolese army and Wazalendo from the Mushaki-kagusa and Nturo battlegrounds. Their aim is to confront the M23 rebels directly. This decision, announced on November 18, 2023, follows the Burundian army’s assertion that the M23 rebels are actively seeking confrontation.
The move comes in the aftermath of intense clashes between M23 insurgents and the joint forces of Burundian military, FARDC, Wazalendo, and FDLR/FOCA in various areas of the Masisi territory. During these confrontations, the M23 rebels succeeded in killing Burundian soldiers and capturing others on the battlefield, actions that displeased the Burundi government.
Conversely, the M23 rebels accuse the Burundian army of meddling in Congolese affairs and collaborating closely with Wazalendo, FDLR, and FARDC groups to oppress Congolese speakers of Kinyarwanda, particularly those belonging to the Tutsi tribe. The M23 rebels have recently declared their unwillingness to tolerate such behavior from the Burundian army, expressing their readiness to confront them regardless of the cost.
It’s worth noting that the Mushaki, Kagusa, and Nturo areas are presently under the control of the East African Community (EAC) forces, engaged in a peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo, with a significant presence from the Burundian forces.