M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this week promised to retreat from a strategic position even as they conquered territories elsewhere, throwing confusion over the future direction of a year-long conflict.
On December 23, they withdrew from Kibumba, just about 25 kilometres from the city of Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, the pullout has been described as a “sham” by the Congolese army. Maj-Gen Sylvain Ekenge, the spokesman of the Congolese military, Fardc, denounced it as “a distraction to deceive the Congolese and the international community” as the group reinforces its positions elsewhere.
As M23 prepared to “hand over the Rumangabo”, fighting was reported in some other villages against the allied militia.On Monday, the group seized Kisharo, a major commercial town 100km northeast of Goma. And on Tuesday, gunfire was again heard in the area, causing further displacement of civilians.
Congo's M23 rebel group says it’s ready to withdraw from occupied territory in the east of the country and will lend support to regional peace-making efforts despite not being represented in talks. It also confirmed its commitment to a previously agreed ceasefire.
The group has requested a meeting with the East African Regional Force to discuss modalities and renewed its request for a meeting with the mediator and facilitator, Kenya's ex-president Uhuru Kenyatta, who facilitated talks in Nairobi.
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