Congo rebels complete Goma pullout

2012-12-01 23:01
M23 rebels in Goma (AFP)

M23 rebels in Goma (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Goma - Rebels believed to be backed by Rwanda completed their retreat from Congo's eastern provincial capital on Saturday less than two weeks after taking control of the strategic city, a military official said.

The retreat, however, may be tentative after the general for the M23 rebels said they now wanted to negotiate with the government within 48 hours.

Ugandan Brigadier Jeffrey Muheesi, who is part of a mission sent by regional leaders to oversee the rebel retreat, said the rebels' pullout from Goma was complete.

"They have pulled out of Sake and Goma, and now Congolese government policemen are controlling the central bank, the governor's office and the border post," he said from the outskirts of Goma.

The M23 rebels took the capital of North Kivu on 20 November, after battling the Congolese army for nearly a day. The group had defied two earlier ultimatums to leave Goma, raising the possibility they did not intend to leave and giving credence to a UN report accusing Rwanda of using the rebels as a proxy to annex territory in the mineral-rich eastern Congo.

Mineral wealth

The eight-month-old M23 rebellion is led by fighters from a now-defunct rebel group, who agreed to lay down their arms on 23 March, in return for being allowed to join the ranks of the Congolese army.

M23 takes its name from the date of that accord, and the rebellion began in April, when hundreds of soldiers defected from the military, saying that the terms of the accord had not been respected.

In fact, most analysts believe the origin of the rebellion is a fight over Congo's vast mineral wealth, a good chunk of which is found in the North Kivu province where Goma is the capital. Starting this spring, the fighters seized a series of small towns and villages in North Kivu, culminating with the capture of Goma, a population hub of one million and a key, mineral trading post.

The regional bloc representing the nations bordering Congo had issued a Friday deadline for the M23 fighters to retreat from Goma, after the rebels had thumbed their nose at an earlier ultimatum. M23 rebels began retreating on Tuesday from the other territories they seized.

Trucks full of M23 soldiers were driving out of Goma this morning. A column of rebels on foot walked near the convoy, mirroring the column of fighters that first walked into the city a little less than two weeks ago. The rebels left in a matter of hours and in an orderly fashion, carrying rifles and ammunition. Some of the trucks also carried mattresses and even a generator.

"Now we are waiting for the negotiations, within 48 hours," said a leader of M23, General Sultani Makenga, as he left Goma.

He said the rebels would wait for a cease-fire to be signed.

"If the government wants, we will come back," he said, adding that they'd do so through negotiations, or force if needed.

Looting

The rebels' withdrawal also comes after they attempted to force their way into Goma's international airport on Friday in order to seize arms belonging to the Congolese military.

"An agreement was reached yesterday over the ammunitions issue," said Sy Koumbo, a spokesperson for the UN mission in Congo. He said that UN peacekeepers had control of the airport and blocked the fighters from obtaining the arms.

But M23 leader Gen Makenga said the matter had not been resolved.

"We decided to leave. We will get all this back, when our turn comes," he said.

Goma's residents have denounced the M23 rebels for looting several small shops and houses.

In the Majengo neighbourhood, a shop worker said that fighters stole money, a phone, oil and alcohol. Other people said the M23 rebels were going door-to-door, looking for valuables to loot.

"At midnight, I heard my children screaming that someone wants to break the door," said a 65-year-old man who insisted on anonymity out of fear for his safety.

The rebels will settle in Kibati, a mere 15km from Goma in the coming days and 600 Congolese army soldiers will move into Goma alongside a neutral force made of troops from the countries that are a part of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
- AP
Read more on:    congo  |  security  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.