Kivu, DRC | THE INDEPENDENT | M23 rebels have declared a unilateral ceasefire to pave way for dialogue with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.
This comes after a week of heavy fighting between the rebels and government troops on Rutshuru Territory, North Kivu province about three kilometers to the main border of Uganda-DRC.
The rebels captured three military positions in Tchanzu, Runyoni, and Ndiza Rutshuru Territory. The fighting claimed the lives of four rebels and Congolese soldiers at Murujinga and Mukiharo-Bunagana. The Congolese soldiers took another ten rebels captive, according to a security source in Rutshuru.
Now, the rebels have declared a ceasefire in a statement signed by their spokesperson, Willy Ngoma, saying they are ready to continue talks with Kinshasa with a view to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. M23 says that their troops have withdrawn from the combat zone in order to avoid new confrontations with the Congolese army.
However, the rebels say they are on high alert and will fight back once attacked.
“The military tension observed in recent days in the territory of Rutshuru is due to the offensive initiative of the FARDC against, which the Congolese Revolutionary Army (ARC) has opposed an appropriate defensive strategy. The ARC units withdrew from the conquered spaces to occupy defensive positions so as to widen the zone which separates them from the FARDC in order to avoid any new confrontation. This will make it easier to identify which side will take the initiative in the war,” reads the statement in French.
According to the rebel, they made a commitment to a ceasefire “to allow the authorities of the country to initiate a dialogue for a peaceful settlement of the crisis,” the statement adds. M23 rebels through Ngoma had previously argued that their soldiers were acting in defence and accused the Congolese army of waging war against them.
Our reporter was unable to get a comment from the Congolese military. Traffic between the border city of Bunagana and the capital of Rutshuru territory as well as socio-economic activities have resumed normally.
Schools, markets, and higher institutes of Rutshuru, have also reopened. The population, which fled the confrontations in the peripheral villages of Tchanzu and Runyoni has also returned, according to the local authorities there.