DRC rebels extend stay in Goma

2012-11-30 21:19


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Goma - Rebels in Congo believed to be backed by Rwanda postponed their departure on Friday from the key eastern city of Goma by 48 hours for "logistical reasons," defying for a second time an ultimatum set by neighbouring African countries and backed by Western diplomats.

The delay raises the possibility that the M23 rebels don't intend to leave the city they seized last week, giving credence to a United Nations Group of Experts report which argues that neighbouring Rwanda is using the rebels as a proxy to annex territory in mineral-rich eastern Congo.

"We will be out of Goma on Sunday, and will go back to our initial positions in Kibumba," M23 rebel spokesperson Vianney Kazarama said on Friday, referring to a town 25km north of Goma.

The regional bloc representing the nations bordering the DRC had issued a Friday deadline for the M23 fighters to retreat after the rebels had thumbed their nose at an earlier ultimatum.

Kazarama's announcement suggests the rebels are dragging their feet.

In a sign of how confused the situation remained on Friday, a barge carrying around 280 Congolese policemen arrived at Goma port, on the banks of Lake Kivu.

The policemen had fled when the rebels took the city and were returning to resume control of the city on Friday, as had been earlier agreed.

The DRC government police appeared disoriented, unsure what to do and they did not disembark from the barge, as M23 fighters patrolled the port.

The M23 rebels are widely believed to be supported by Rwanda, which according to the UN report, has provided them with battalions of soldiers, arms and financing.

The DRC, an enormous, sprawling Central African nation, has twice been at war with its much smaller but more affluent and better organised neighbour.

Read more on:    un  |  m23  |  drc  |  central africa

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