DR Congo’s M23 rebels defy call to withdraw

Congolese M23 rebels say talks between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Democratic Republic of Congo counterpart Félix Tshisekedi will not stop the fighting in eastern DR Congo.

The Wednesday talks in the Angolan capital Luanda – under the mediation of President João Lourenço – agreed to a de-escalation of tensions between the two neighbours.

The leaders also called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities and immediate withdrawal and without condition of M23 from its positions in DRC”.

But M23 spokesperson Major Willy Ngoma has told BBC Great Lakes that the group will not withdraw from its positions.

“Withdrawing to go where?” Major Ngoma asked. “We are Congolese. Do you want us to live without a country?”

He said this was a Congolese political problem to be solved among Congolese people.

The armed group says it fights for a “noble and just cause” of defending the rights of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese – those it says are marginalised – but the Congolese government accuses it of being a Rwandan proxy.

Rwanda-DR Congo relations have been tense since M23 resumed attacks in North Kivu province in late March after nearly a decade without a major offensive.

Each side blames the other for starting the fighting, which has displaced more than 170,000 people, according to the UN.

The rebels recently captured the town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda.

DR Congo accuses Rwanda of backing the M23, which both Kigali and the rebels have consistently denied.

source: bbc

Ray Charles Marfo

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