Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the lead facilitator of the East African Community (EAC)-Led Nairobi peace process for the restoration of peace and stability in North Kivu has condemned fresh fighting between M23 rebels and the Militia coalition under the umbrella of Wazalendo (patriots).

Fierce fighting started last week between Wazalendo and M23 on all the fronts in Masisi, Ruthuru and Nyiragongo territories. In the aftermath, Wazalendo claimed to have captured 21 villages from the hands of M23.

The M23 group accused Burundian troops of acting against the EAC Heads of State resolutions by handing over Kitchanga to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo FARDC) soldiers and Wazalendo. But FARDC refuted the accusations arguing that Wazalendo are fighting on their own and FARDC is still observing a ceasefire.  Burundian troops also stated that they are still operating under the EAC mandate.  

On Tuesday morning, M23 rebels through their Political spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka and FARDC spokesperson for North Kivu province, Lieutenant Colonel Ndjike Kaiko Guillaume, both released statements counter-accusing each other for the killing of seven civilians in Bugomba and Kabungu II villages, Rugari Locality, Gisigari groupement, Rutshuru territory.  

The deceased persons who were killed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, some with the use of bullets and others with sharp blades have only been identified by the single name of Bebe, Gafishe, Kereri, Dieu-aime Matemane, Kota, Kasuku and Albert Bagabo.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Uhuru condemned the fighting and called upon all parties to immediately halt the offensive and hostilities to allow unhindered and sustained humanitarian access and to give a chance to a return to peace and the pursuit of a non-military solution to the crisis in the area through the EAC-led Nairobi Peace process. It remains unclear if Uhuru’s call will be respected by both the Wazalendo militia and M23 rebels. 

Fresh fighting started after Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo reiterated his statement while speaking during the recent 78th United Nations General Assembly in the United States of America’s City, New York that DR Congo will never hold any dialogue with M23 rebels describing them as terrorists supported by neighbouring Rwanda.  

He accused them of continuously killing innocent civilians under their conquered positions and asked the UN Security Council to sanction all perpetrators and co-perpetrators of serious crimes committed in the DRC, in particular Rwanda which acts under the cover of the M23.               

A few days after his statement, FARDC took over the Mushaki position located in Bahunde Chiefdom about 40 kilometres from Goma city from Burundian troops. After taking over, Major General Peter Chirimwami the new North Kivu province military Governor and area Commander of Operations told locals and soldiers that there are no negotiations with M23 rebels since they are backed by Rwanda. 

He added that the aim of the government army is now to wipe out M23 from all the positions.       Lawrence Kanyuka, M23 political spokesperson also released a statement saying that M23 is going nowhere the moment direct dialogue with the government is done. An ultimatum by the DR Congo government issued to M23 to withdraw from all positions and surrender expired on September 25, 2023.  

In March 2022, the territories of Rutshuru, Masisi and Nyiragongo fell into turmoil after the M-23 rebels led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga launched a war against the government. The majority of positions were conquered by rebels in fierce fighting resulting in the suspension of the education sector in the territories until September 4, 2023.

The rebels started withdrawing from the conquered areas in December 2022 following the deployment of peacekeeping troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan. But, Tshisekedi’s fresh statement ruling out dialogue drove M23 into re-occupying positions they had ceded.

The rebels say that they are fighting against bad leadership, corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination in DRC based.   


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *