M23 accepts ceasefire, demands meeting with President Lourenço and Kenyatta
M23 rebel group has agreed to respect a call for ceasefire and requested a meeting with the mediator (Angolan President, João Lourenço) and facilitator (former Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta) involved in the process to restore calm in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
M23 released the statement on Friday 25th November 2022 before 18h:00, a deadline for ceasefire that had be set previously during a mini-summit held in Luanda, the capital of Angola on security situation in eastern DRC.
The meeting which took place on Wednesday this week was attended by Angolan President, Lourenço; the President of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi of DR Congo.
It was also attended by Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta and Uhuru Kenyatta.
The first resolution of the meeting was a call for M23 to ceasefire, halt attacks against Congolese Army (FARDC) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) effective from 25th November 2022 at 18h:00.
It was also decided that the rebel group has to withdraw from captured areas and return to previous positions in Sabyinyo Volcano.
Before the deadline, the President of M23, Bertrand Bisimwa released a statement agreeing on ceasefire.
He explained that the group is willing to cease fire as was the case on 1st April 2022 without involvement of DR Congo.
Later on 10th April 2022 in Entebbe, Uganda, the statement adds, both parties agreed on the cessation of hostilities but was never respected by DRC Government coalition of FARDC, FDLR, Nyatura, ACPLS, CODECO and Mai Mai.
“Yet again, the M23 accepted the ceasefire as recommended by the Heads of State, however, request DRC Government to respect the ceasefire. Otherwise, the M23 reserves the full right to defend itself and to protect the civilian populations against any violations of the agreed ceasefire,” reads the statement.
M23 has also requested ‘a meeting with the mediator and the facilitator in order to discuss the matter of its concerns in a way to restore a lasting peace in our country’.
During past meetings in Luanda, M23 was not represented where resolutions were only supported by DR Congo.
The recent resolutions triggered mixed reactions as to how the Congolese Government would be assured of their implementation yet M23 was not represented in the meeting.
Besides, M23 resumed fighting after DRC failed to implement peace accords signed in Nairobi in 2013.
Speaking to France24 on Thursday, the Congolese Minister of Communication and Government Spokesperson, Patrick Muyaya said: “You know that M23 is represented by Rwanda from the onset of attacks. Let’s talk about things as they are. We are optimistic that the resolutions taken this time around with their timeframes will be implemented to restore peace on the entire national territory.”
In response to that, the Deputy Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda, Alain Mukuralinda told France24 that it would be far from the reality if DRC and its spokesperson believe that Rwanda was representing M23.
Mukuralinda further stated that the resolutions of Luanda make up a continual failure of Congo in restoring peace in eastern part of the country.
“Resolutions reached in Nairobi, Luanda and Burundi are the same. This resolution has demonstrated a great failure and total incapacity of Congolese Government in restoring security in eastern part of the country, and lack of political will to implement the aforementioned resolutions,” he said.
“Rwanda is neither a representative nor a spokesperson of M23. This kind of additions has always seen the implementation of resolutions failing because they are mixing up things,” added Mukuralinda.
DR Congo boycotted negotiations with M23 calling it a terrorist group but later changed its stand and agreed that it would engage in talks if the rebel group withdraws from captured areas.
This has been hampering the peace process to restore calm in the area. M23 has been also denouncing Genocide under preparation in DRC on collaboration between DRC and its allies highlighting that it won’t stand idly and watch killings committed against Congolese.
The rebel group maintains that it is willing to participate in all negotiations to restore peace in eastern DRC.
Despite the agreement to cease hostilities, M23 recently announced that it cannot withdraw from held positions.