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M23 Punch FARDC’s Statement Disowning FDLR :: Uganda Radionetwork
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M23 Punch FARDC’s Statement Disowning FDLR

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General Sylvain Ekenge, the FARDC spokesperson, issued a statement on Tuesday night, declaring the army's decision to disassociate from the FDLR. Ekenge cautioned that any FARDC soldier found in alliance with the FDLR would face arrest and legal repercussions.
Bertrand Bisimwa,M23 President (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)
The March 23 Movement (M23) rebels have contested the recent announcement made by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) regarding their separation from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). General Sylvain Ekenge, the FARDC spokesperson, issued a statement on Tuesday night, declaring the army's decision to disassociate from the FDLR. 

Ekenge cautioned that any FARDC soldier found in alliance with the FDLR would face arrest and legal repercussions. It remains unclear whether Ekenge's statement was prompted by Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) of the United States, who recently visited Presidents Felix Tshisekedi of the DR Congo and Rwanda's Paul Kagame. 

During this visit, Haines urged both leaders to defuse the diplomatic tensions between their nations. In response, Bertrand Bisimwa, President of the M23 rebels, released a statement on Wednesday dismissing FARDC's announcement as baseless. Bisimwa asserted that the announcement lacked substance and was merely superficial. 

"This press release from the coalition of Kinshasa regime forces is nonsense, it has no merit other than window dressing. The FDLR has long ceased to be a separate group... they are FARDC officers and soldiers beyond being these so-called groups of Wazalendo patriotic citizens integrated into the Army as reservists,” he said.

He highlighted ongoing issues such as the persecution of Tutsi individuals, hate speech, xenophobia, and widespread insecurity in Eastern DRC, suggesting that the coalition's declaration would not automatically resolve these complex problems. 

The FDLR originated from former senior officials involved in the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda. They relocated to eastern DR Congo following their defeat that same year and have been under United Nations Security Council sanctions since 2012. The group is accused of severe atrocities, including murder, mutilation, rape, forced displacements, and child recruitment.

Despite FARDC's announcement, clashes between M23 rebels, FARDC, and militia coalitions persist, with recent skirmishes occurring in Ndondo, Rusinga Kamuronza, Kilorirwe, and Kitchanga in Masisi territory. The M23 spokesperson, Lawrence Kanyuka, claimed advancements in Kitchanga, asserting that M23 had taken control of nearby Mweso. 

Efforts by the East African Community Regional Force in the province have yet to yield success in halting the ongoing conflict to facilitate dialogue between the involved parties.   Since March 2022, the M23 rebels, led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga, have engaged in conflict with the government, alleging Rwanda's support. 

However, Rwanda and M23 vehemently deny these accusations, maintaining that they are combating corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination in the DR Congo leadership.

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