US pushes for dialogue as M23 rebels advance to Goma City

Wednesday February 07 2024

M23 rebels look on in Kibumba in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on December 23, 2022. The rebel group has conquered swaths of territory in North Kivu Province in recent months and now advancing to Goma. PHOTO | AFP


The US has called for dialogue between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government and armed groups as the M23 rebels advance to the eastern city of Goma.

The US State Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller on Tuesday said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has talked to former Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta about establishing a pathway to reconciliation with armed groups.

“Blinken spoke with former Kenyan president Kenyatta about the conflict in Eastern DRC and the importance of providing a pathway to reconciliation with armed groups. The Nairobi process and the assistance of regional leaders are vital to resolving the conflict,” Miller posted on his X, formerly Twitter, handle.

DRC government is against any dialogue with M23 rebels. The East African Community (EAC) has numerous times attempted to establish a dialogue between the two groups under the Nairobi Process in vain.

Read: Uhuru Kenyatta comeback in East Africa politics


DRC President Felix Tshisekedi’s government has listed M23 and Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) as terrorist groups.

Tshisekedi also accuses Rwanda President Paul Kagame of backing the M23 rebels, an allegation he denies.

The Congolese legislature has also blocked any attempts for dialogue with the M23 unless they disarm first and are cantoned in Eastern DRC.

DRC few months ago accused EAC Regional Forces (EACRF) deployed in the country of not fighting M23 rebels that were capturing more territories in the eastern region of the country.

But with the help of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces, the DRC army has started fighting back, though with minimal success on the ground so far.

M23 spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka said the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) attacked their positions using heavy artillery, emphasizing that they have no issue with the forces but would retaliate should the attacks continue.

Read: M23: Two commanders killed in DRC fighting

“We hereby emphasize that the M23 is respectful of all regional organisations and doesn’t have any particular problem with SADC, especially the TPDF,” he said.

“The M23 will be left with no other choice than to capture or neutralise the weapons and those operating them in order to protect innocent civilians,” he added.

The M23 rebels have continued to advance to Goma City and they are now threatening to encircle it.

According to media reports, the rebels during the weekend captured Shasha town, south of Goma, which was the only remaining road under the control of the DRC forces.