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M23: We Are Staying in Goma

As regional leaders issued a statement in Kampala ordering the rebels to withdraw from Goma immediately, the M23 started what they called an advance on the South Kivu’s main town of Bukavu. They captured Sake, a small town located 27km west of Goma on the Goma-Bukavu road. They were reported to be preparing to head south to Bukavu, which is about 230km from Goma.
M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo say that they are not going to with draw from Goma amidst increasing international pressure.

The rebels captured Goma, the North Kivu provincial capital and a regional business hub for the mineral-rich country. As Kivu fell with ease into the M23 hands, the country’s president Joseph Kabila arrived in Kampala for talks with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, the two leaders who have been accused of supporting the rebels. Museveni is the chairperson of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a platform set up to find ways of ending violence in the region.

At the end of the talks on Wednesday, the three leaders issued a statement asking M23 rebels to withdraw from Goma immediately.

But M23 spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vianney Kazarama told Uganda Radio Network from Goma that the Kabila government should not set preconditions if it is committed to having talks with them.

Kazarama says that the rebels will continue with their move to liberate the country if Kabila has failed to fulfill and meet the expectations of the Congolese people.

As the leaders issued a statement in Kampala, the rebels started what they called an advance on the South Kivu’s main town of Bukavu. They captured Sake, a small town located 27km west of Goma on the Goma-Bukavu road. They were reported to be preparing to head south to Bukavu, which is about 230km from Goma.

The rebels say the joint statement issued by Presidents Museveni, Kagame and Kabila of DRC asking the rebels to pull out of the areas under their control is unacceptable. Kazarama added that the rebels have gone ahead to take areas of Karuba and Mushaki after capturing Goma and that their advance towards Bukavu is steady.

Kazarama says that the government and other concerned people from the international scene have failed to realize the challenges that the Congolese people go through and the need for liberation. Instead, he says, they have just gone ahead to listen to what he called lies and propaganda from President Kabila.

He says that the heroic welcome that they receive in the areas which they capture should send a clear signal to Kabila that he is forcing himself on the people after failing to meet their expectations especially protecting them from the indisciplined Congolese government army.

 

The spokesperson says that the rebel forces will not bow to Kabila’s tactic of making a lot of noise to make the whole world believe his lies, adding that the most important thing is having talks.

Sources from Bukavu say that locals in the area are preparing to leave amidst suspicion that the rebels would descend on the town any time.

When asked about the move on Bukavu Kazarama said the people themselves have been asking the rebels to rush in and liberate them.

At least 500,000 people have been displaced by the fighting since April this year when the M23 defected from the government army.

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