The M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have fired their civilian president Bishop Jean Marie Runiga. According to Betra Bisimwa, the M23 Rebels Civilian spokesperson, Runiga was relieved of his duties by the High command of the M23 also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army. Bisimwa said that the decision to sack the Bishop Runiga was taken because he had failed the rebel group.
He stands accused of stealing money, working with other rebel groups, and failing to provide adequate leadership to the rebels. Bisimwa said that the Bishop failed to implement the political program of the M23 Rebels and also failed to provide general policy guidance to the different structures of the M23.
Runiga is accused of dealing with other rebel leaders such as Bosco Ntaganda who the rebels believe wishes to influence M23. The accusations go further to allege that Runiga has been recruiting soldiers loyal to Bosco Ntaganda into M23, thus sowing divisions. He is also accused of diverting rebel finances to support these activities The same meeting resolved and preferred high treason charges against Jean-Marie Runiga and is also relieved of his duties immediately. The rebels civilian spokesperson Betra Bisimwa told the media that Brigadier Sultan Makenga, the military commander, will assume interim presidency.
His tenure is expected to be brief as the rebels will meet on Tuesday next week to decide on Runiga’s replacement. Bisimwa also dismissed reports that there had been an exchange of fire btween forces loyal to Makenga and those loyal to ousted civilian leader Bishop Jean Marie Runiga. When contacted for a comment on the matter Bishop Jean Marie Runiga said he was aware of being sacked but had not received formal communication. When asked about the circumstances surrounding his sacking, the bishop declined to comment and said the rebel movement’s spokesperson was in a better position to explain.
Sources within the M23 Rebels indicate that the fallout between Bishop Runiga and Sultan Makenga stems from the rebels withdrawal from Goma. The sources claim Runiga was opposed to the action of withdrawing from the provincial capital of North Kivu Province. According to the reliable sources the Leaders of the M23 have always disagreed on the decision that was taken but the rebels deny that there was fighting amongst themselves before the firing of the president.