Congolese President Says M23 Rebels Have Not Withdrawn as Agreed

Congolese's President Felix Tshisekedi confirmed that the M23 rebels hadn't left most seized areas as anticipated.
President Felix Tshisekedi
| Photo Credit: United Nations

Following the recent address by President Felix Tshisekedi, he confirmed that the M23 rebel group were still in areas seized in the eastern DRC.

“Despite the international pressure, the group is still there. They pretend to move, they act like they are moving, but they are not. They are simply moving around, redeploying elsewhere and they stay in the towns that they have captured,” he said.

Regional leaders brokered an agreement in November under which the Tutsi-led group was meant to withdraw from recently seized positions by January 15 as part of efforts to end a conflict that has displaced at least 450,000 people and sparked a diplomatic crisis between Congo and neighbouring Rwanda. 

However, the spokesman for the M23, Lawrence Kanyaka, said “president Tshisekedi has only this to say. It is the government that does not respect the cease-fire, it also continues to arm armed groups”. 

The DRC along with other European countries have repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, although Kigali denies these accusations. UN experts said they had collected substantial evidence of direct intervention by the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) on DRC’s territory between November 2021 and October 2022. Rwanda however denied and disregarded the findings of this report. 

In January, an intelligence report by the United Nations said it was not possible to confirm the M23’s purported withdrawal from some areas due to continued signs of troop movement, and the analysis indicated the group had seized new territory elsewhere. 

Civil society organizations have called for a demonstration on Wednesday in the capital, Goma, to protest delays in implementing the M23 withdrawal from the seized areas. The city authorities however have not authorized the demonstration.

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