M23 seeks audience with DRC govt to 'peacefully resolve' ongoing conflict

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  • M23 rebels want an audience with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The group believes it is the "only path to peacefully resolve the ongoing conflict" in eastern parts of the country.
  • It says it "reserves itself the full right to defend itself and protect the civilian populations against any violations" of a ceasefire.

The M23 rebel group wants a direct audience with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) so that a lasting solution to hostilities in the eastern parts of the country can be achieved.

M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa, said in a statement that the rebels were committed to a "direct dialogue with the DRC government" because that's "the only path to peacefully resolve the ongoing conflict".

Last week, thousands of people were displaced in the eastern region when M23 rebels marched towards Goma.

The crisis created by the fighting in the villages of Kibumba, Rugari and Tongo put pressure on inter-governmental organisation, the East African Community (EAC), to move in to restore calm. Although a dialogue was preferred, the EAC deployed its standby force in the east of the DRC but were yet to taste action.

During talks on the DRC situation in Angola's capital, Luanda, in the past week, the EAC leaders agreed on an immediate ceasefire.

But M23 didn't attend the mini summit and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, accused of aiding the M23, was represented by his foreign affairs minister, Vincent Biruta.

Initially, after the announcement of the ceasefire, the M23 said it "doesn't really concern us" because they were not invited.

However, a day later, Bisimwa expressed gratitude to regional leaders for "endless efforts to find a peaceful resolution".

While they accepted the ceasefire, they wanted to be heard by the facilitator, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.

The rebels claim to be protecting the community and once the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) provoke them, they won't hesitate to take up arms.

"The M23 accept the ceasefire, as recommended by the heads of state, however, [we] request the DRC government to respect the said ceasefire, otherwise, the M23 reserves itself the full right to defend itself and protect the civilian populations against any violations of the agreed ceasefire," Bisimwa said.

The M23 is made up of former National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) insurgents.

The M23 name comes from the 23 March 2009 peace agreement that the CNDP and the DRC government reached. Rebels formed the group after the DRC government violated the agreement.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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