By Spy Uganda
The East African Community regional force (EACRF) deployed in eastern DR Congo has described the withdrawal from Rumangabo military camp by the M23 rebels as a “critical milestone.”
The regional force said in a statement that its troops took over control of Rumangabo, after M23 withdrew from the strategic base on Friday, January 6, in respect of the Luanda summit of heads of state of November 23, 2022.
The military base, located 42 kilometres north of Goma and the largest in North Kivu province, was captured by the rebels in May 2022 after heavy fighting with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC).
The M23 withdrawal began on December 23 when its fighters gave up control of Kibumba, a town they captured a month earlier.
According to Brig Gen Emmanuel Kaputa, the EACRF deputy commander, the rebels’ pull-out from Rumangabo was “yet another critical milestone in the ongoing efforts to bring peace and stability in eastern DRC.”
Kaputa encouraged “all parties to the conflict to embrace the cease-fire for the success” of the Luanda and Nairobi peace processes.
“M23 undertook a well-coordinated, sequenced and systematic withdrawal from occupied areas of Kibumba on 23rd December 2022 and has committed to fully comply with the Luanda communique on total withdrawal from areas under their control to the designated areas,” the EACRF statement said.
The M23 still controls parts of North Kivu, including the Bunagana, a town on the border with Uganda. On Thursday, there were reports of heavy fighting along Ishasha border, also near Uganda.
The rebels want direct talks with the Congolese government so as to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
“There must be an immediate cessation of hostilities against all civilians,” said Kaputa, “they have nothing to do with the ongoing conflict.”
While the Luanda summit also ordered all Congo-based foreign armed groups – FDLR from Rwanda, RED-Tabara from Burundi and ADF from Uganda – to disarm and repatriate, unconditionally, by November 30, there are no signs of any of them disarming.