M23 military commander Sultani Makenga said the Congolese rebels would start returning to withdrawing from the captured city of Goma on Thursday in line with a deal struck in Kampala with East African leaders, headed by Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
The Congolese rebels say they are starting to pull out from the eastern cities of Goma and Sake as the United Nations issued a new call for an end to foreign support for the fighters to prevent the conflict spreading across the volatile region and beefed up their security force with 4000 forces.
On Tuesday, Makenga said the M23 had begun transferring arms, provisions and medical supplies from Goma to the Rutshuru territory north of the city, located along the Uganda and Rwanda border that has been their main stronghold since launching their uprising in April.
The UN Security Council call came as Kinshasa demanded new sanctions against Rwanda over its alleged backing for the M23 rebel group, which occupied Goma and Sake without any resistance from the UN troops stationed in Goma last week.
A French-drafted resolution passed at the UN meeting said the council would consider sanctions against more M23 leaders and “those providing external support”, although it did not name any country.
The DR Congo government also accused the M23 of widespread looting in Goma, while the Red Cross reported that it had buried dozens of people whose bodies were found in the streets following the rebels’ capture of the city more than a week ago.
The dramatic escalation in the M23 uprising since it was launched in April heightened international fears of a fresh conflict and a major humanitarian crisis, with reports of atrocities and tens of thousands of people displaced in the fighting.
The rebels agreed to withdraw from Goma after talks in Kampala this week, but have issued a list of demands to the government of President Joseph Kabila.