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We want Kinshasa to choose peace over war – M23 rebels

The M23 rebel group which resumed fighting the DR Congo armed forces, FARDC, in North Kivu province in mid-2022 has said the Congolese government should support ongoing peace efforts to end the conflict.We want Kinshasa to choose peace over war – M23 rebels

The rebels continue pulling out of their occupied territories in a bid to respect the resolutions of the Luanda mini-summit held in November 2022.

The regional leaders’ mini-summit on the security crisis in eastern DR Congo resolved that the M23 rebels who are fighting the Congolese army in North Kivu province withdraw from territories they had captured and occupied.

Leaders also, among others, ordered the FDLR, a genocidal terrorist group formed by remnants of the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, to disarm immediately and embark on an “unconditional repatriation.”This has not happened.

After pulling out from their positions in Kibumba in December2022, to cede ground to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) deployed a month earlier, Lawrence Kanyuka, the M23’s political spokesperson, has said they will also pull out of the Rumangabo military camp on Thursday, January 5.

Kanyuka said the M23 expects a reciprocal gesture from the Congolese government and reiterated that fighting would not bring an end to the ongoing conflict.

“The M23 wants peace and lends its support to the endless efforts of the regional leaders to find lasting peace in DRC,” he said.

“We expect the DRC Government to follow the path of peace and to support the efforts of the region in order to peacefully resolve the ongoing conflict.”

The rebels are calling upon the government in Kinshasa to initiate direct talks with them and to address the root causes of the “cycles of wars and violence in our country.”

Their pull-out from positions they had captured, he noted, is not a sign of weakness.

“We hope that Kinshasa will choose peace instead of war as there is no military solution to the ongoing conflict. Calling for a peaceful solution does not mean that we are weak and cannot defend ourselves,” Kanyuka told The New Times.

Some analysts say Kinshasa is not willing to engage the rebels in peace talks. The Congolese government earlier refused to have the rebels in the inter-Congolese peace dialogue in Nairobi, Kenya, calling them terrorists.

Congolese media reports indicate that Kinshasa doubts the M23pull-out from Kibumba.

Kanyuka has reiterated that they left the area on December 23.

The commander of the EAC regional force, Maj Gen Jeff Nyagah, met President Felix Tshisekedi, on December 30, 2022, and briefed him on the regional force’s operations in eastern DR Congo.

The M23 called for direct talks with Kinshasa but it still remains to be seen whether the latter will accept. The rebels were side-lined from the Nairobi peace talks between the Congolese government and more than 30 other Congolese armed groups which concluded in December.

It is not yet known when exactly the EAC-led inter-Congolese dialogue first held in April 2022 will resume. But some reports indicated that the talks could resume sometime in early 2023.

‘EAC should take charge’

The November 2022 Luanda meeting outlined what needs to be done in order to bring peace, security, and stability in the sub-region, Albert Rudatsimburwa, an analyst, said the process of implementation lacked clarity.

Rudatsimburwa told The New Times that the EAC should be able to take charge of the peace process and convince the parties involved to respect the regional mechanism.

“The M23 is the only actor acting. The rebels cannot act beyond a certain point. What they do is to show their good faith. But other parties need to show good faith as well,” he said.

“The withdrawal is not about give and take but it’s a dance you dance with a partner. If the partner is not there, then you cannot dance.”

 

Rudatsimburwa also has reservations about the EAC’s influence in making sure all parties respect the peace process.

“How much does the East African Community really own this process? Besides having the Heads of State put signatures ondocuments, what actions is the EAC ready to take?” Rudatsimburwa said.

For example, he said, there was no manual attached to the Luanda resolutions explaining who does what, and when.

“Only what you have is: this and that should be done.” he said.

“The EAC has to come out and say something. Why has nobody, since the Luanda summit, taken ownership of that process? Which EAC departments are monitoring the peace process in eastern DRC?”

“Luanda outlined what will be done. Then, somebody has to explain how the process will be implemented. What is needed is for the regional body to take charge, be responsible and accountable about the process.”

We want Kinshasa to choose peace over war - M23 rebels
We want Kinshasa to choose peace over war – M23 rebels

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