December 20, 2014

M23 Rebels To Return To Bihanga

Over 800 former M23 fighters from Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to voluntarily return to Bihanga military camp in Uganda after being assured of their safety.

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The fighters escaped from the Bihanga camp on 16th December fearing for their safety following plans by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces to repatriate them  to Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rigobert Amani Kabasha, the M23 spokesman in an interview said the former fighters have agreed to return to Bihanga after receiving assurances from Government of Uganda that they would not be forcefully repatriated.

Over 1000 members of the defunct M23rebel group had been under Uganda Peoples Defence Forces Protection at Bihanga military camp in Western Uganda.

M23 denounced war in 2012 and entered into peace negotiations with the DRC government in Kampala. The two parties later signed a Declaration in Nairobi, which provided for the repatriation and reintegration of the rebels into the community.

But M23 Political Head, Bertrand Bisimwa protested against the repatriation of the former fighters back to DRC. He said the attempt to return the M23 former fighters to the DRC was “a violation of international law” and of a peace deal reached a year ago between the DRC and the group.

Bisimwa the M23 rebels will pull out of the Nairobi declaration forum where they denounced war if the Congolese government doesn’t respect earlier agreements that were signed by them.

UPDF spokesperson Paddy Ankunda said that some rebels had fled to Rwamwanja refugee camp where they reported to the UN that they don’t want to be repatriated. The rebels had earlier on expressed concern over the manner in which their amnesty has been handled.

M23 sources revealed that they were unhappy that some of their members had been killed under unclear circumstances following their return to DR Congo for amnesty.

They named Bonane Rwamakuba Gahene, who was the head of the Bweza arm of the rebel group whom they allege was beheaded on 28th September at Rubare by DRC army officials and Felix Shamba, an administrator who was killed under unclear circumstances on October 19th at his home in Rutshuru.

The alleged wipe out of the leaders of the M23 movement has been heavily denied by the government in Kinshasa.

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