Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Congolese government has insisted that it will not change its stand on negotiations with the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in Rutshuru territory despite President Yoweri Museveni’s fresh advice on dialogue.
M23 rebels have been fighting FARDC since early March. Rebels on June 13 captured the major Uganda-DRC border of Bunagana and the neighboring areas. The rebels claim that they are fighting bad leadership in DRC based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination.
Fighting has left thousands of civilians displaced with many fleeing to the Ugandan district of Kisoro and others to Rutshuru town. Peace negotiations between the Congolese government and rebels in Nairobi-Kenya and Luanda Angola have not yet yielded any fruits in form of uniting the two to create total peace in Rutshuru.
Congolese top government officials visited Museveni at State House Entebbe to seek guidance on how best they can handle and end the security crisis in their country. The delegation was led by the Senior Minister of Works Alexis Gisaro Muvunyi, Maj. Gen Ntumba Frank Buamunda, Special Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs, and Lt.Gen. Rwuibasira Obed Ruyumba, Chief of staff in charge of Operations.
Museveni advised that the correct way to solve the problem once and for all is to have a cease-fire in place. Museveni also advised that the M23 issues should be listened to by the regional leaders.
“My proposal is to solve this problem completely. I propose three things, have a cease-fire completely, where there is no one fighting, let the regional people come in (Kenyatta of Kenya) and finally engage and dialogue with M23 people so that you listen to their issues,” President Museveni advised.
However, the Congolese government through Patrick Muyaya Katembwe, the Minister of Communication and Media and government spokesperson insist that the M23 must first leave Bunagana before continuing the negotiations. Muyaya said in a press briefing on Thursday in Kinshasa that President Museveni gave his opinion which the Congolese government does not agree with.
According to Muyaya, the M23 and all its henchmen must return to their initial positions of Tchanzu and Runyoni hills. “President Museveni gave his opinion which is not ours. We the principle is what was said in Nairobi. The M23 and all its henchmen must return to their initial positions. Our position does not change. They must leave Bunagana because we have agreed to a ceasefire in Luanda. We are firm on this subject,” insists Muyaya.
M23 rebels through their spokesperson had also vowed not to leave Bunagana arguing that they have nowhere to go since they are Congolese by nationality. Rebels also argued that they were forced to capture Bunagana in order to stop FARDC soldiers from attacking their positions.
Although there has been calm in Rutshuru for about one and a half weeks, security is still at stake. On Wednesday night, M23 rebels released a statement arguing that despite them respecting the cease-fire, FARDC soldiers in collaboration with their friendly militias of Nyatura, Mai Mai, and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda(FDRL) rebels have since Tuesday this week conducted preparations in Kiwanja, Rutshuru town, Rubare Rugari and other surrounding villages to conduct fresh attacks.
M23 rebels say that in incase fresh attacks are launched, they are ready to defend themselves.