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M23 Continue to Install Administrative Leaders in North Kivu As Fighting Rages On :: Uganda Radionetwork
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M23 Continue to Install Administrative Leaders in North Kivu As Fighting Rages On

M23 had previously captured Kitchanga in February 2023 but later withdrew, handing it over to peacekeeping mission troops of Burundi under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF).
Bertrand Bisimwa, M23 rebels' president (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)
The March 23 Movement (M23) rebels are continuing to consolidate their control over areas in North Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite ongoing efforts by government forces and coalition troops to push back their advance. In a statement released on Monday morning and signed by M23 rebels' president, Bertrand Bisimwa, several administrative appointments were announced. 

Patient Kibanja Mangunga was appointed as the administrator of Kitchanga town in Masisi territory, with Faustin Batachoka Niyongabo serving as his deputy. These appointments follow resolutions made by the M23 hierarchy during a meeting held in January 2024. M23 had previously captured Kitchanga in February 2023 but later withdrew, handing it over to peacekeeping mission troops of Burundi under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF). 

However, the rebels returned to Kitchanga after the withdrawal of EACRF troops from DRC soil in late 2023, following accusations by the DRC government of their failure to launch an assault against M23. In late January 2024, M23 installed Prince Mpambuka as the Administrator of Rutshuru territory, along with several other appointments in various towns and departments within their control. These appointments signal M23's intent to establish administrative control and governance structures in the areas under their influence, further complicating efforts for peaceful conflict resolution between the rebels and the government. 

Heavy fighting between M23 rebels, government forces (FARDC), and militia coalition forces under the Wazalendo umbrella, supported by troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has been ongoing, particularly around Sake and Shasha towns in Masisi territory. Key battlegrounds include Ndumba Hill near Shasha town, which serves as a strategic location for rebel control over rear bases, and areas along Kimoka road and Tingi village. 

The conflict between M23 and the government dates back to March 2022 when the rebels launched a war against the government, accusing it of corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination. The DRC government has accused Rwanda of backing M23, although both Rwanda and M23 deny these allegations.

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