Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

In a rare video appearance, the leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo M23 rebel group, Sultani Makenga, has dismissed the idea of his side disarming and insisted that if the government wants peace “there will be peace” and “war if they want war”.

In May, as part of the peace process in eastern DR Congo, East African leaders said the M23 and other rebel groups should disarm and be housed in special military camps.

Mr Makenga, who is under UN sanctions for alleged war crimes, said in the video that the “disarmament does not concern us in any way”.

However, in the message shared by the M23’s spokesperson, he said the group has met the heads of state’s request to “cease fire and withdraw”.

He added that they were waiting for the government to agree to negotiate with them. But back in April, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said that was “impossible”.

After year-long clashes between the Congolese army and the M23, there has been relative calm in North Kivu province since March, after regional leaders called for a ceasefire.

The UN says that more than 500,000 people had fled their homes as a consequence of the fighting.

The DR Congo authorities and a recent report by UN experts have accused neighbouring Rwanda of sending its soldiers to fight alongside the M23. The Rwandan government has consistently denied this and said the expert’s report “propagates dangerous distortions and fabrications”.

By Joy

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