The spokesperson of M23 rebel group says they want talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after capturing the town of Bunagana located by the border between Uganda and DRC, in North Kivu.
Willy Ngoma, the spokesperson of the rebel movement which is facing off with Government forces FARDC, told KT Press on Monday that after capturing the strategic town, their intention is to push the government into talks to address their grievances.
“It is true we captured Bunagana this morning at 8:30am. We are in full control,” Ngoma told KT Press on phone, adding that their intention now is to have talks with the government.
Reports suggested that capturing Bunagana would be followed by a push towards Goma as tensions and counteraccusations between M23 and Government forces FARDC continue.
Ngoma, sounding confident, said that they pushed FARDC out of Bunagana, with some of the government forces fleeing into the south western Ugandan town of Kisoro.
Photos and videos circulating on social media show pick-up trucks with Congolese soldiers entering Uganda as crowds look on by the roadside.
Ngoma dismissed claims that they had the support of Rwandan forces to capture the strategic town. FARDC on Sunday night in a statement claimed that M23, which had the support of Rwanda, was pushed back as it attempted to capture Bunagana.
Rwanda has categorically denied backing the rebel group, which said they fought back after their bases were attacked by government forces FARDC, which has members of terror organisation FDLR fighting alongside them, with the support of the UN Peacekeeping force in DRC, MONUSCO.
UN-funded Radio Okapi confirmed the fall of Bunagana, which is 70km north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu. The M23 captured Goma in 2012 before giving it up following the intervention of the standby brigade and subsequent talks.
Ngoma said that all they want is the government to abide by the existing peace agreement and ensure protection of the communities of Eastern DRC against discrimination and targeted attacks.
“Our objective is not to wage war. We want peace and this has always been our position. When attacked, we defend ourselves,” Ngoma said. Ugandan authorities confirmed that FARDC soldiers entered Uganda after being pushed out of Bunagana. Bunagana is considered a major cross-border trade point between DR Congo and Uganda.