The M23 rebels in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) maintain that they have withdrawn from positions they previously held in Kibumba and are set to handover the military camp in Rumangabo to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) on Thursday.
M23 on Wednesday dismissed reports that they have not cooperated with the withdrawal plan as directed by the Luanda Mini-Summit, indicating in a statement that they left their positions on December 23, as agreed by all parties.
Media reports quoting Congolese government FARDC said that M23 had tactically kept their presence in Kibumba and surrounding areas, despite reports of withdrawal. Kibumba is located 20Km north of Goma, in North Kivu Province.
“Contrary to what has been said in the media, the M23 Movement confirms that it withdrew from its positions of Kibumba, effective of December 23rd, 2022,” a statement released on Wednesday by Lawrence Kanyuka, the M23 political spokespersons, reads in part.
“The M23 remains committed to implementing the resolutions of Luanda Mini-Summit and lends its support to the Region’s endless efforts to find peace in DRC. The M23 will handover the Military Camp of Rumangabo to full responsibility of the EACRF as planned on January 5, 2023,” it adds.
The M23 rebels condemned what they called the continuous attacks by the DRC Government’s coalition against its different positions, adding that they will continue to defend themselves and protect the civilian populations in the areas under their control.
The rebels accuse the DRC government of launching attacks on their locations and areas inhabited by Congolese Tutsis, Hemas and other groups which the M23 says fights to protect against ethnic violence meted out groups allied to government forces, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The FDLR, a Rwandan terror organisation composed of remnants and descendants of the genocidal forces, remains active in Eastern DRC where it has been confirmed to operate with the government forces. Rwanda maintains that without addressing the root causes of the longstanding conflict, starting with the many armed groups in the country, peace will remain futile to attain.