DR Congo – M23 Not “Really Concerned” By Ceasefire Order

A spokesman for the rebel M23 movement said they would not withdraw from their positions and if attacked would “defend themselves”.

A spokesperson for the rebel March 23 (M23) movement declared that M23 is “not really concerned” by the ceasefire accord announced in Luanda due to go into effect today Friday Nov 25.

“The M23 has knowledge of this document through social media. They did not have anybody in the summit thus we are not really concerned”, declared Lawrence Kanyuka, spokesperson of the M23 movement on Nov 23.

“Normally, when there is a ceasefire, it is between two parties at war”, Kanyuka added.

A mini-summit was organised in the Angolan capital, Luanda this week. It brought together the DR Congo president Felix Tshisekedi and the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vincent Biruta. President Paul Kagame did not attend the meeting.

The mini-summit decided on the cessation of hostilities in the eastern DR Congo effective from Friday Nov 25 and ordered the withdrawal of the M23 rebels from the zones it occupies and their “return to their initial positions”. 

If the rebels refuse to do so, the East African Community (EAC) regional force that is being deployed in Goma, “would use force to push them into submission”.

Lawrence Kanyuka affirmed that the rebels had themselves “decreed a unilateral ceasefire” in April and claims that it is still in place. However, there has been fighting in the region since October. Rebels have advanced, taking over new towns and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

“If tomorrow (today Friday) at 6 p.m. or in the morning, the government does not attack us, we would still be here”, the M23 spokesperson said, adding that if they are attacked, they would defend themselves.

In a press briefing Nov 24 in Kinshasa dedicated to the Luanda summit, the DR Congo Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula simply recalled that “tomorrow (today) at 6 p.m., the M23 must stop all its attacks”.

The M23 spokesperson had declared that the movement is “always ready for direct dialogue with the Congolese government to resolve the profound causes of the conflicts”.

Questioned on this point by a journalist, Christophe Lutundula rejected the possibility, saying it was out of the question to negotiate with “terrorists”.

The DR Congo Minister of Communication and government spokesperson, Patrick Muyaya had already said Tuesday that it was out of the question to discuss with the M23 rebels as long as they do not withdraw from zones they are occupying in the east of the country.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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