M23: DRC forces in areas ceded to EACRF violating ceasefire deal

Tuesday April 11 2023
M23 rebels

M23 soldiers leave Rumangabo camp after a meeting with EACRF officials. The rebels say the DRC government forces must stop re-occupying areas their soldiers vacated and surrendered to EACRF forces under a ceasefire deal. PHOTO | GUERCHOM NDEBO | AFP


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel group M23 claim their peace efforts are being frustrated by the country’s government forces ‘reoccupying’ areas the fighters have surrendered to the East African Community Regional Forces (EACRF).

The EACRF completed full deployment in the multinational sector of Rutshuru and Masisi territories in the eastern DRC, meant to provide a neutral buffer to civilians in an area where violence pitying government forces and rebels has raged for months.

But the M23 rebels, the largest armed group in eastern DRC, say their decision to honour ceasefire calls have been violated by constant raids from the government.

Read: M23 declares ‘effective ceasefire’

“The DRC government must stop re-occupying areas vacated by M23, killing and harassing innocent civilians as well as looting and destroying their property. It must disarm its militias forces, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and mercenaries, and immediately repatriate them to their countries of origin,” M23 Political Spokesperson for the M23 Lawrence Kanyuka said.

EACRF delayed deployments


Since last week, the entire formation of the EACRF has deployed in eastern DRC with troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan now in their respective operational bases. The idea of EACRF was to secure areas previously occupied by M23 which was ordered to surrender the territories and seek dialogue with the DRC government.

However, the M23 says it has been attacked by the DRC army (FARDC) and the FDLR which Kigali says have been supported by the DRC government.

Since February, M23 says it has pulled fighters from territories such as Karuba, Mushaki, Kilorirwe, Kitchanga, Mweso, Kishishe, Bambo, Bunagana, Tchengerero, Kiwanja and Kinyandonyi. These areas are to be occupied by EACRF for the time being.

Read: M23 rebels meet Uhuru, agree to cede occupied areas

“We are witnessing troops deployment delays by the EACRF in other areas vacated by the M23, including Kishishe, Bambu, Kibirizi, Ishasha, Kisharu, Busanza, Ngwenda, Mabenga, Tongo and Nyamilima,” M23 said.

The group says civilians in those areas are now at the mercy of the DRC government forces and rebels including FDLR, Nyatura, APCLS, Codeco, Pareco, Mai-Mai, and Mercenaries.

The M23 urges the EACRF and Regional Verification Mechanisms to look into the matter and accuses the DRC of committing recent “massacres” even after ceasefire.