About 25 Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers attached to Northern Front operations were on Wednesday evening sentenced to death after pleading guilty of fleeing from the enemy.      

The soldiers were arrested following the recent swift advance of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in Lubero territory. 

M23 rebels captured Kanyabayonga in recent weeks and later advanced to Miriki, Kimaka, Luofu, and Kayna.  Rebels also captured the FARDC’s military camp of Kasando, located about 4 kilometers to Kirumba town.       

Appearing before the Butembo garrison military court presided over by Captain Magistrate Byamungu Munanira, the soldiers were charged with the dissipation of war munitions, fleeing from the enemy in Kaseghe and Matembe, violation of orders, and robbery.  

The court heard that the soldiers abandoned war ammunition and fled from the frontline without orders from the commanders.        

Munanira also sentenced 1 soldier to 10 years of main penal servitude for robbery while on the front. Munanura however released four wives of soldiers after the court failed to prove their involvement in the fleeing of soldiers from the front.        

Second Lieutenant Reagan Mbuyi Kalonji, FARDC Spokesperson for Northern Front operations says that   the sentence acts as a lesson to discourage decisions that violate instructions during the fighting. Tension remains high on all the fronts as both parties remain in their positions.  M23 rebels have released threats of advancing to Butembo town.      

In March 2022, M23, led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga, initiated a conflict against the government.  The DR Congo government accuses Rwanda of supporting M23, although both Rwanda and M23 vehemently deny these claims. 

The rebels assert that they are fighting against corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination within the leadership of DR Congo.

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