AFRICA/DR CONGO - M23 rebels withdraw from Rumangabo military base, but does not withdraw from other locations

Tuesday, 10 January 2023 armed groups   missionaries  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - On January 6, rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23) officially handed over the Rumangabo military base they seized in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in October, to the military force of East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), but according to local sources there are reports of fighting in other areas of the Congolese province.
"Based on the agreements signed on November 25, the M23 officially handed over the Rumangabo military base, in the territory of Rutshuru, but are still in the localities of Kibumba and Buhamba", says to Fides, Fr. Loris Cattani, a Xaverian missionary, a great expert in the area. "While Rumangabo is located about 35 km from Goma (capital of North Kivu), Kibumba and Buhamba are located about 20 km from the city", the missionary points out. "Moreover, according to the agreements, the Congolese armed forces cannot enter the areas under the control of the EACRF. And it is not known what relationship there is between the M23 and the soldiers of the African force", he adds. "In conclusion, we are in the presence of a situation that is not completely clear on the effective fulfillment of the November agreements".
According to a report by a UN intelligence unit, the Joint Mission Analysis Center (JMAC), the total withdrawal from the area of the M23 has not yet been confirmed and indeed the report highlights how the M23 has brutally conquered new territories even after attending the handover ceremony of Kibumba to EACRF forces. "Several clashes involving the M23 were reported during the week, resulting in the insurgents taking control of further areas, particularly threatening Kitchanga, Mweso, Sake, Kilorirwe, Mushaki and Nyamilima", the UN report said.
The Kinshasa government claims that the M23 receives support from neighboring Rwanda, where President Paul Kagame yesterday, January 9, announced that his country will no longer welcome refugees from the DRC. "We cannot continue to host refugees from the DRC", Kagame said during the inauguration ceremony of the new President of the Senate.
"This is not Rwanda's problem. And we will ensure that everyone realizes that it is not Rwanda's problem", added the Rwandan Head of State. A decision that risks further exacerbating relations between Kigali and Kinshasa. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/1/2023)