M23 rebel group rejects Rwanda-DRC ceasefire roadmap

File – Soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a file image. – ALAIN UAYKANI / XINHUA NEWS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The rebel group March 23 Movement (M23) has rejected the ‘road map’ established between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has caused unrest in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, for the cessation of hostilities in the east of the country.

The M23 has declared that it is not bound to this agreement, since it was not present at the negotiating table, although the spokesman of the rebel group, Lawrence Kanyuka, stressed on Wednesday that if there are no attacks against their positions they will respect the pact, as reported by different local media on Thursday.

«If the Congolese government wants to negotiate, it has to do it directly with us», said M23 before an agreement that was signed by the Congolese president, Felix Tshisekedi, and the Rwandan foreign minister, Vincent Biruta, as representative of the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame.

In the framework of a summit in Luanda, the capital of Angola, to advance in the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the parties agreed on the cessation of hostilities as of Friday, as well as a withdrawal of M23 two days later from the recently conquered areas.

The decision, which seeks to advance in the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, has caused unrest among the population in North Kivu, where a demonstration has been held in its capital, as reported by Radio France Internationale.

The parties agreed on Wednesday that, in case the M23 refuses to withdraw from the recently occupied territories, «the heads of the EAC — East African Community — will direct the regional forces to use force to induce them to surrender».

The M23 has been accused since November 2021 of carrying out attacks against DRC Army positions in North Kivu, seven years after the parties reached a truce. UN experts have accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting the rebels, although both countries have denied this.

The conflict has also led to a diplomatic crisis between the DRC and Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of supporting the M23, although Kigali has rejected these claims and has accused its neighbor of allegedly supporting the rebel movement of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).