To enable for negotiations with Felix Tshisekedi’s administration, M23 rebels have agreed to withdraw from sites they had occupied in Eastern DR Congo.
M23 rebels restarted their activities in Eastern DRC early this month after a ten-year hiatus, initiating raids that resulted in the control of many districts.
The rebels, however, have agreed to withdraw from these locations in exchange for talks with the Kinshasa government, according to a statement posted on Sunday morning.
“After April 6, we will withdraw from the locations we have seized in order to permit the signature of a bilateral ceasefire and the commencement of discussion with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Maj Willy Ngoma, the M23 spokesperson, stated.
Last month, it was reported that the rebel group had restarted operations, and that they were attacking FADRC military installations in the North Kivu provinces of Chanzu and Runyonyi.
The Congolese army has responded to the onslaught, which have expanded near the Ugandan border at Bunagana, by repelling the rebels.
Thousands of Congolese refugees have fled to Uganda due to a resumption of M23 rebel attacks.
M23 rebels stated in a statement posted on Sunday that they will give over Congolese army personnel captured during the fighting to the Red Cross.
“To this aim, the M23 declares its intention to hand over all components of the national army captured on the front lines to the International Committee of the Red Cross for suitable treatment.”
M23, on the other hand, said that by going to war, it never planned to capture and rule over Congolese territory, but rather to bring the issue in Eastern DRC to a peaceful conclusion.
“The movement’s leadership reminds the public that it never planned to conquer spaces in order to administer them; our sole aim is to bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion.”
M23 was formed by former members of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a Tutsi militia force originally supported by Rwanda and Uganda.
CNDP militants were absorbed into the Congolese army following a deal in 2009, but they rebelled in 2012, claiming the agreement had not been honoured by the Kinshasa government, and were renamed the Congolese National Liberation Front.
After capturing large parts of North Kivu, the gang was defeated and drove out of the territories they had taken over.
They eventually reached an accord and were reintegrated into civilization, although some of the warriors chose to remain in the jungle.
M23 rebels resumed attacks this year after a ten-year hiatus.