M23 rebels insist on meeting DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, EAC facilitator Uhuru Kenyatta

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  • M23 rebels have assured the East African Community that they will withdraw.
  • They want to meet the DRC president and the East African Community facilitator and negotiator.
  • They want their concerns to be taken seriously.

M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have reiterated their call for a meeting with former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and have vowed to continue to respect a two-week-old ceasefire.

Kenyatta is the East African Community (EAC) facilitator in the Nairobi-led peace talks that are aimed at ending hostilities in the eastern parts of the DRC.

In the middle of the year, M23 revived fighting against the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), the government's army.

READ | M23 rebels claim 8 civilians killed by stray bullets in battle with govt forces

Last month, they covered considerable ground in their threat to capture Goma, the capital of North Kivu, pushing the EAC regional forces to be dispatched in anticipation of a fully-fledged war.

However, regional leaders such as Évariste Ndayishimiye, the president of Burundi, in his role as chairperson of the EAC, launched the EAC-led Nairobi Process on the restoration of peace and security.

However, M23, designated as a terrorist group by the DRC, the United States and the United Nations, was not part of the process that discussed their role in instability, among other militia groups, in eastern DRC. M23 wants to be included in the talks.

People trying to cross border with belongings
People attempt to cross the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ugandan border with their belongings to seek refuge after clashes between the Congolese army and the M23, in Bunagana, 100km from the city of Goma in eastern DRC.
Asylum-seekers carry belongings at Bunagana border
A group of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) asylum-seekers carry their belongings at the Bunagana border point in Uganda, on 10 November 2021, following a deadly fight between M23 rebels and DRC troops.
AFP Badru Katumba / AFP

In a statement, political spokesperson of M23, Lawrence Kanyuka, said the outfit "renews its request for a meeting with the mediator and facilitator in a way to discuss the matter of its concerns".

When around 300 soldiers, mostly former Defence of the People (CNDP) members, rebelled against the DRC government on 4 April 2012, they founded M23. They did so because of the army's alleged subpar working conditions and the government's refusal to carry out the 23 March 2009 peace agreement.

While they took up arms again this year, they claimed the government was violating the 2009 peace agreement that was signed during former president Joseph Kabila's tenure.

M23 wants to meet current DRC President Felix Tshisekedi to solve the crisis.

"The M23 reiterates its readiness to the direct dialogue with the DRC government in order to find a lasting solution to the root causes of the conflict in the eastern DRC," said Kanyuka.

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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