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the rebel group M23 announces to withdraw from a strategic position in the East

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The M23 rebellion announced on Friday that it agreed to withdraw from Kibumba, one of its strategic positions at the gates of the provincial capital Goma, conquered at the end of October, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a press release.

While thousands of people have fled the clashes in recent weeks, the rebel group Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) announced on Friday 23 December that it agreed to withdraw from Kibumba. This city, located about twenty kilometers from the provincial capital Goma, represented a strategic position in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

After weeks of fighting with the Congolese army, “the M23 supports regional efforts and agrees to hand over its positions in Kibumba to the responsibility of the EACRF (East African Community Regional Force)”, notified the rebel group.

According to this press release signed by Lawrence Kanyuka, the movement’s political spokesperson, it is a “goodwill gesture made in the name of peace”. A ceremony to which journalists are invited is scheduled for the end of the morning, according to this document.

Rising tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali

Since the relaunch of its offensive in October, the Tutsi rebellion of the M23 has conquered large swaths of the territory of North Kivu, a Congolese province bordering Rwanda, leading to a brutal rise in tension between Kinshasa and Kigali.

Kibumba came under the control of the M23 in mid-November after intense fighting with the army, raising fears of a capture of Goma, a city of more than a million inhabitants, and provincial capital of North Kivu.

This announcement of Kibumba’s withdrawal comes at a time when the Rwandan army is accused of having carried out military operations in eastern Congo and of having supplied “weapons, ammunition and uniforms” to the M23 rebellion, according to a report by experts mandated by the United Nations, not yet published but consulted Thursday by AFP.

Kinshasa accusing Kigali of actively supporting the M23 and fighting alongside it, relations between the two neighbors are terrible and the Rwandan ambassador has been expelled by the DRC. Kigali denies these accusations.

Among the various diplomatic initiatives launched to try to resolve the crisis in the east of the DRC, a summit organized a month ago in Luanda had decided on a ceasefire on the evening of November 25, and envisaged a withdrawal of the M23 from the conquered areas two days later.

Otherwise, the East African regional force being deployed in North Kivu would intervene to dislodge the rebels. But so far, the M23 has kept its positions, while in places expanding the area under its control.

In its statement, the M23 presented “its gratitude to the regional leaders for their relentless efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC”.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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