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M23 Withdraws Soldiers from Captured Areas to Facilitate Ceasefire :: Uganda Radionetwork

M23 Withdraws Soldiers from Captured Areas to Facilitate Ceasefire

The statement indicates that the M23 movement intends to hand over all the FARDC soldiers captured on the frontline to the International Committee of the Red Cross for the appropriate care.
Congolese soldiers fleeing war recently

The March 23 Movement (M23) rebels have withdrawn fighters from the captured areas in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu Province, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to facilitate the signing of a bilateral ceasefire and the opening of dialogue with the government.  

Heavy fighting between M23 rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers started on March 28th in Rutshuru territory, about three kilometers from the main border of Uganda - DR Congo.

The rebels captured three military positions in Tchanzu, Runyoni, and Ndiza Rutshuru territory.  The Rebels on April 1st, 2022 declared a ceasefire saying they are ready to continue talks with Kinshasa with a view to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. However, the rebels made it clear that they are on high alert and will fight back once attacked. 

The ceasefire however never lasted long after the FARDC on April 6th launched a fresh attack. On the same day, FARDC announced that it had recovered the areas of Bugusa, Tchengerero, Cheya, and Mbuzi hills Bugusa hospital, and the Catholic parish of Kinyamahura from the rebels. 

Later, FARDAC again lost the areas of Runyoni and Tchanzu, Gisiza, Gasiza, Bugusa, Bikende-Bugusa, Kinyamahura, Rwambeho, Tshengerero, Rubavu and Basare. FARDC remained only with Bunagana and Rwanguba bridge. 

Betrand Bisimwa the M23 leader also shared a video of three FARDC soldiers who were captured alive. The arrested government soldiers testified in a video that FARDC has collaborated with Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (French: Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda-FDLR), an ethnic Hutu rebel group against the government of Rwanda to fight M23.  

Today Sunday, M23 rebels through its spokesperson, Major Willy Ngoma issued a statement indicating that it has decided to withdraw its fighters from newly occupied positions to allow their concerns to be addressed through a frank and fruitful dialogue with the DRC government. 

The statement indicates that the M23 movement intends to hand over all the FARDC soldiers captured on the frontline to the International Committee of the Red Cross for the appropriate care. 

The Government is yet to make a statement about the matter. Sokola 2 Operations Spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Njike Kaiko also says that he will make an official statement about the recaptured areas in favor of rebels later.   

Damien Sebusanane, president of the civil society of Bunagana, a border city with Uganda says that the current situation in the area is confusing. He says that the fighting has again caused the traffic to be cut off between Rutshuru centre and Bunagana. The Rutshuru provincial deputy Emmanuel Muhozi on Saturday revealed that the fighting has left more than 40,000 civilians displaced. He says that civilians who are seeking refuge in churches and schools in  Rutsiro and Ntamugenga, in Rutshuru centre are living without water, food, and bedding.   

“People meet in Rutsiro and Ntamugenga, in schools and churches. No assistance to date has been given to this population that has nothing. They have no water, no food, and no shelter. During this very rainy period in our communities, the population is exposed to all kinds of weather.   “From March 27 until today, the population is undergoing a dramatic humanitarian situation. Wherever people have fled, I am talking about Rutshuru Center, Mungo locality, there is also the Bweza group which is seriously affected and part of Kisigari, says Muhozi.  

On Saturday evening, military officials under the Extended Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) held a closed-door meeting with Kisoro district security officials at Bunagana border to discuss the impact of fighting between M23 rebels and FARDC troops.  

Launched in September 2012 in Goma, EJVM which comprises military experts from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region-ICGLR Member States monitors and carries out investigations on security incidents.  Delegates were from Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, and, South Africa among others.  

The meeting was also attended by Douglas Asiimwe, Uganda’s Acting Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister. Asiimwe later revealed to our reporter that the influx of Congolese refugees in Kisoro has reached over 10,000.

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