M23 rebels threaten to resume fighting over DRC’s ‘behaviour’

Mr Rucogoza (C) during a press briefing in Kampala on Tuesday. PHOTO BY AFP

What you need to know:

Ready. The rebels boast of enough well-trained soldiers and equipment, but insist they have not received any foreign assistance.

The M23 rebels have warned that they could resume confrontations if the Kinshasa government does not stop working with Rwandan FDLR rebels to amass troops near their positions, even as they announced a ceasefire on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference at their hotel in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb, delegation leader Francios Rucogoza said: “We know that the government delegation, which is here, wants to contradict the reason why we are here which is to talk peace.”

“We have evidence that there is a troop’s build-up back home near our positions, they are preparing to attack us,” Mr Rucogoza said through his interpreter.

He added that the Kinshasa government and the FDLR rebels had variously deployed in the areas of Goma town, which M23 briefly captured last year, but were convinced to withdraw to allow the peace process to take off.
“By refusing to sign a ceasefire, Kinshasa is declaring that it is ready to resume war,” Mr Rucogoza, who was accompanied by his entire delegation and newly-appointed deputy head of delegation, MP Roger Lumbala, said.

“We don’t understand how we can be involved in a peace process here in Kampala when there is a troop build-up back home.”
Mr Rucogoza said they had held discussions with chief talks facilitator, Uganda’s Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, since their return on January 4 and were waiting to be called for a resumption of the negotiations. Dr Kiyonga could not be reached for comment.

The talks were due to resume on January 4 after a two-week Christmas break, but are yet to take off after the government in Kinshasa refused to sign onto the ceasefire.

This has put the talks in a balance.
In announcing their own ceasefire, the rebels indicated they wanted to facilitate the progress of the talks.

Regional leaders under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region currently chaired by President Museveni are facilitating the effort to restore peace to eastern DRC.
The UN has said hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the conflict.


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