Congo's M23 close as army enters Goma

2012-12-03 18:01
M23 rebels in Goma (File, AFP)

M23 rebels in Goma (File, AFP)

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

Goma - Rebels known to be backed by Rwanda remained perilously close to the major population centre of Goma, with their fighters on Monday taking positions just 3km away from the provincial capital as their leaders said they were waiting for a 48-hour deadline to expire.

The Congolese army on Monday entered Goma, two days after rebels pulled out of the key eastern mining hub as part of a regionally-brokered deal.

Dozens of trucks carrying a battalion of troops entered the city's Katindo military camp in the afternoon, according to an AFP reporter.

After a nearly two-week occupation, the M23 rebel group agreed to leave Goma over the weekend under intense international pressure, including fresh sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.

They agreed to retreat to 20km outside the city on the condition that Congo's government enter into negotiations over their grievances no later than 14:00 local time on Monday. The rebels are threatening to retake the city if Congo fails to meet their demands.

As the deadline expired, journalists saw a column of rebel fighters walking to elevated positions overlooking the city, no more than a few kilometres outside the Goma city limit. Others were building a tent on a western hill. Some in groups of three took positions under the shade of trees along the road leading north from Goma.

"We gave Kinshasa a 48-hour deadline, and we are now waiting for these 48 hours to expire," said rebel spokesman Col. Vianney Kazarama, when reached by telephone shortly before the deadline passed. "You should call Congo and ask them what they plan to do. They have not yet contacted us. And we are waiting to see what happens, before pronouncing ourselves."

Despite the rebels' retreat from Goma, which was a prerequisite set by the Congolese government for negotiations, President Joseph Kabila has not yet made clear if the government will negotiate. On Sunday, government spokesman Lambert Mende said the president would listen to M23's grievances and then give them an answer about negotiations.

On Monday as the ultimatum neared its end, Mende could not immediately be reached for comment, with an aide saying he was in a meeting.

Authority

In recent weeks, the enormous, jungle-covered nation of Congo, whose capital is over 1 600km away from this provincial eastern city, inched closer to war its smaller, but more developed neighbour, Rwanda, which is accused of arming the M23 rebels, as well as of sending soldiers across the border.

The rebels claim to be fighting for the better implementation of a 23 March 2009 peace accord, which saw them integrated into the national army. Analysts, including a United Nations Group of Experts, say that the real reason for the rebellion is Rwanda's desire to annex territory in the mineral-rich mountains at the border between the two countries.

Congo's Interior Minister Richard Muyej, speaking to reporters in Goma, said that his team was ready to negotiate with M23 on the basis of the 2009 accords. He also said that they are working hard to fill the power vacuum that was left by the rebels' departure.

"We shall work very hard to re-establish the authority of the state as fast as possible."

At the same time, Congolese troops, who had gathered in the town of Minova, some 60km south of Goma, did not appear to be moving any closer to Goma. The city of Goma was being patrolled by Congolese police.

Residents whose lives were upended two weeks ago when rebels invaded the town on 20 November, tried their best to go about their lives.

Most shops had re-opened, as the city of 1 million was slowly trying to get back to normal despite uncertainty about what will happen in coming hours. A woman selling second-hand clothes at the Virunga market said she had no choice.

"We're not going to wait forever, are we?" said Anette Murkendiwa. "I need to feed my children."


- AP
Read more on:    drc  |  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
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
5 crucial questions to ask before you take that job 2014-10-30 08:00

You choose your employer just as much as they choose you. Here are 5 of the most important things you should find out about a company before you sign up.

/News
 

10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

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 R2100 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!

TV Series – 2 for R299

Loads of hot titles to choose from. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. 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!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid 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

You may be doing the work and playing the game, but your innovative mind is on a far away planet planning the next big thing....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.