The March 23 Movement (M23) rebels have accused the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and their coalition of violating a two-week truce requested by the United States government. This truce was intended to allow displaced civilians in the North Kivu province to access humanitarian aid.

Last week, the US government announced that both FARDC soldiers and M23 fighters had agreed to a two-week total ceasefire starting on July 5, 2024, at exactly midnight. During Saturday and Sunday, there was a noticeable reduction in gunfire, with all belligerents holding their positions across Lubero, Masisi, Rutshuru, and Nyiragongo territories.

However, in the early hours of Monday morning, Lawrence Kanyuka, the M23 rebels’ political spokesperson, released a statement accusing the FARDC and their coalition of violating the truce. Kanyuka claimed that on Sunday evening, the FARDC and coalition launched an assault on M23 positions in Matembe, approximately 12 kilometers from Kaseghe in Lubero territory.

Kanyuka condemned the attack, asserting that it also targeted civilians. He called on national and international communities to witness what he described as the FARDC and coalition’s exploitation of the truce to launch bombings.

“We call on the regional, national, and international community, as well as humanitarian organizations, to witness this umpteenth violation by the Kinshasa regime, which is taking advantage of our respect for the truce to attack us and bomb densely populated areas,” stated Kanyuka.

The FARDC and the DR Congo government have yet to officially respond to M23’s claims. However, a FARDC soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the media that M23 fighters were the ones who tried to exploit the situation by attempting to bypass FARDC positions from the rear, firing a few warning shots. He stated that the FARDC responded, and the confrontation lasted only about five minutes.

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 the DR Congo.

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