Peace efforts in Congo: M23 rebels reject ceasefire agreement

Dhe rebels of the M23 movement in eastern Congo reject a ceasefire with the Congolese government troops that begins this Friday. The background is an agreement reached by the heads of state of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, who agreed on an end to the violence on Wednesday. “These decisions are not binding on us. We did not take part in the negotiations and did not delegate anyone,” said the spokesman for the rebel movement, Lawrence Kanyuka, on Friday of the German Press Agency.

Since the end of October, violence between the army and the M23 rebel group in eastern Congo has escalated again. According to the United Nations, the rebels have now conquered parts of the North Kivu region and are advancing on the provincial capital Goma.

The M23 movement is made up of former Congolese army soldiers who formed a rebel group in 2012. According to the United States, around 130 different armed groups are said to be active in eastern DR Congo; many of them are concerned with controlling the valuable natural resources.

The Congolese army defeated the M23 rebels in 2013. Since the end of March this year, however, the rebel movement has been attacking civilians and military installations again in eastern Congo, as well as fighting with the Congolese army. Burundi had provided soldiers to support the Congolese army. According to UN information, neighboring Rwanda supported the rebel group.

However, the Rwandan government has denied responsibility for the rebels’ actions. “Rwanda does not represent the M23 and is not its spokesman,” said Alain Mukuralinda, spokesman for the Rwandan government of the German Press Agency.

Now the conflict could escalate further. In the communiqué signed by the heads of state, the M23 movement was threatened with an offensive if the rebels did not withdraw from the positions they have held since March.

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