The M23 rebels on Monday, November 6, claimed they have recaptured the strategic positions in eastern DR Congo that they had previously handed over to the East African Regional Force (EACRF), following the deteriorating security situation in the area.
This follows months after the rebels had vacated the positions, in compliance with the Luanda peace agreement that was aimed at giving a chance to a negotiated settlement of the conflict in the volatile region.
“While defending ourselves and protecting the civilian population, we have driven out the (DR Congo) Government coalition forces from the areas that were handed over to EACRF by the M23,” reads part of the statement shared on social media by the Congolese armed group.
According to M23, the areas had been taken over by the DR Congo coalition in total violation of the ceasefire and the decisions of the East Africa Community (EAC) Heads of State derived from their 20th Summit held in Bujumbura on February 4th, 2023.
The Congolese military is fighting alongside a coalition of local militia groups under their group called Wazalendo together with the FDLR, a terror group made up of Rwandans who committed the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Others said to be allied to the Congolese government forces include a group of mercenaries hired from Europe.
“The M23 wishes to inform that the humanitarian crisis has reached an unprecedented level in Bwiza and its surroundings. War crimes are being committed by the coalition forces of President Tshisekedi Tshilombo in total silence of the National and International Community,” the statement added.
According to Monday’s statement, the rebels also threatened to continue defending themselves “professionally” and at the same time protect the civilian population under threat of extermination.
“The M23 Movement Directorate has numerously explained to the Region, International and National Community as well as to the International Partners, the war imposed on us (M23) by the DRC Government, hence, deplores the continuous silence on the matter and ongoing ethnic cleansing.”
However, the rebels added; “Regardless of the DR Congo government flouting of the regional-led peace initiatives, the M23 still believes in a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in Eastern DR Congo.”
The latest deterioration of the security situation started on October 1, when fighting resumed in eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu province, pitting the country’s armed forces (FARDC) against the M23 group.
Prior to that, the two warring parties have been observing a fragile ceasefire since November 2022.
Several interventions have taken place to pacify the area.
Meanwhile, on Monday, President Paul Kagame’s office announced that the Head of State had held a “productive call” with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken which covered various issues including the deterioration of the security situation in eastern DR Congo.
According to a brief posted by the Presidency on X, (formerly Twitter), Kagame and Blinken also discussed the need for de-escalation of hostilities and a political resolution to the conflict which has lasted for decades.
“President Kagame reiterated Rwanda’s firm support for the ongoing regional processes to bring peace and stability” to DR Congo and the region, reads part of the post.