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Civil Society Leaders Demand Action M23 :: Uganda Radionetwork

Civil Society Leaders Demand Action M23

On June 13,2022, over 170 FARDC soldiers abandoned their base and fled to Ugandan district of Kisoro after an intense fighting with M23 rebels. This follows a fighting between the two parties which had started in late March 2022.
M23 president Bertrand Bisimwa and Military PRO,Major Willy Ngoma (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)
Civil society leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are calling for a fresh assault against the M23 rebels, a year after the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) soldiers ceded the Bunagana border to the rebels. In June 2022, over 170 FARDC soldiers fled to the Kisoro district in Uganda following intense fighting with the M23 rebels. 

The rebels then took over the border and neighboring areas in Rutshuru, Nyiragongo, and Masisi territories. It wasn't until November 2022 that the rebels started withdrawing from these positions, in line with resolutions from the East African Community heads of state summits.

The fighting resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, with some seeking refuge in Uganda and others fleeing to Kanyarutchinya and Goma. As a result of the rebel takeover, the DR Congo authorities closed the road connecting Bunagana to Rutshuru-Goma. Prior to the deployment of troops from the East African Community Regional Force, the rebels had established local administrative units, and the FARDC had been unable to regain control of the areas. 

Jean Claude Mbabaze, the President of the Civil Society in Rutshuru territory, believes that the only solution is to properly equip the FARDC and strike against the M23 rebels. He emphasizes that the Congolese government should not rely on dialogue or foreign troops for salvation but instead take decisive action to regain control of the territory.  

“…it must avoid thinking that the salvation of the Congolese will come from the EAC, SADC, and CIRGL because everyone knows that most member countries of all these organizations are in cahoots with these enemies of peace. The most eloquent example is UPDF and the Kenyans who live in symbiosis with the rebels of the M23,” he said. 

Georges Kapiamba, the president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ), calls for the deployment of Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops and urges Rwanda to end its aggression against the DRC. The M23 rebels, through their spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka, accused the FARDC and militia coalition of organizing and preparing for an assault. 

In response, the FARDC spokesperson accused the M23 rebels of training fighters in neighboring Rwanda and relocating to their old positions with the intention of attacking Goma city.   The DRC government has long accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, although both the rebels and Rwanda deny these allegations. The M23 rebels claim to be fighting against corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination, citing bad leadership as their motivation.

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