M23 Rebels Warn Against Deployment of SADC Troops in North Kivu

Bunagana (DRC). In a press conference held on Saturday in Bunagana town, Rutshuru territory, Bertrand Bisimwa, the president of the March 23 Movement (M23), issued a stark warning against the deployment of Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) troops in North Kivu province. Bisimwa argued that such a move by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government would signal a misguided approach and reluctance to engage in dialogue with M23.

The DRC government is currently in talks to collaborate with SADC troops to replace the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), which has been stationed in the area. The mandate of the EACRF is set to expire on December 8, 2023, but the government has expressed dissatisfaction with its performance, particularly its failure to launch an assault on M23 rebels.

Bisimwa criticized the DRC government for shifting blame onto the EACRF, asserting that their role is to create a buffer zone conducive to dialogue rather than engage in combat. He also condemned the government’s alleged acts of ethnic cleansing against Kinyarwanda-speaking citizens in North Kivu province, including bombings and destruction of infrastructure.

Warning of potential military action if dialogue is not pursued, Bisimwa emphasized M23’s commitment to self-determination should the government persist in its current approach. Despite the escalating tensions, a ceasefire has held since Friday in Rutshuru, Nyiragongo, and Masisi territories.

The conflict between M23 rebels and the DRC government has roots in longstanding grievances against corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination. While the government accuses Rwanda of supporting M23, both Rwanda and the rebel group vehemently deny these claims.

As the situation in North Kivu remains tense, the international community faces mounting pressure to intervene and facilitate meaningful dialogue to address the underlying issues driving the conflict.

Source: URN

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