August 5, 2013

M23 Threaten To Recapture Goma

M23 fighters launched a rebellion last May, forcing 800,000 from their homes
M23 fighters launched a rebellion last May, forcing 800,000 from their homes

M23 rebels in Eastern DRC have threatened to recapture the North Kivu Provincial capital of Goma accusing the Congolese government of failing to live up to its commitments.

Bertrand Bisiimwa, the political head of the rebel group, accuses the Kinshasa government of deliberately refusing to honor the November 2012 declaration by the heads of State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).On November 24, 2012, regional leaders under the ICGLR met in Kampala and asked among others the M23 rebels to pull out of Goma and the two sides to resume talks to end the conflict. Among other demands, DRC was to allow the deployment at the city airport of a battalion comprising forces from three groups including the M23 rebels, the Congolese government forces and a neutral force in between them.Bisiimwa now says that if the Kabila government fails to take heed to what was agreed on, this will give M23 the power to reoccupy the positions which they held in Goma.Bisiimwa adds that the rebels have tried to live up to what was expected of them which included the withdrawal from Goma which they occupied for 10 days in November 2012.

Bisiimwa further reveals that the Congolese government must demilitarize Goma and allow the deployment of a Company of M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army at the city’s airport.

The  M23 rebels say the failure to have the above conditions adhered to has resulted into endless armed confrontations which have caused the death of countless  Congolese, while others have been forced to flee their homes.

Amani Kabashe, the M23 rebel spokesperson, says the resumption of the Kampala peace talks will not be enough if the terms set before the rebels withdrew from Goma are not put into consideration. He says there is no formal ceasefire which he says is responsible for unnecessary confrontations.

On July 14, 2013 there were renewed hostilities which resulted into the death of civilians and a scare that the rebels would once again advance on Goma, after the Congolese government forces failed to push them back from the outskirts of the city.

The shelling between rebels and government forces prompted the UN to establish a security Zone around Goma which they say is aimed at protecting the civilian population.

The Congolese government is yet to comment on the issues raised by M23.

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