from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – BARELY before the ink has dried on the peace agreement, the ceasefire between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government and the March 23 Movement (M23) rebel group is under serious threat.
This is the aftermath of the M23 maintaining its long running war with the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) on Monday, the day before the announcement of the ceasefire, and attacking newly-deployed Burundian troops this week.
The ceasefire provided some glimmer of hope for peace in the eastern DRC.
Announced on Tuesday this week, brokered by Angolan president, Joao Lourenco, it was to culminate in the rebel group fully and effectively withdrawing from all occupied areas in the region.
However, the M23’s commitment to the deal is now questionable after renewed fighting with government forces on the eve of and after the Angolan president in his capacity as the African Union Champion for Peace and Reconciliation reached the breakthrough.
On Monday, there were reports of fighting between the M23 and the Armed Forces of the DRC in the restive province of North Kivu.
On Tuesday, FARDC reported the same rebel group had attacked Burundian troops, also in North Kivu, a day after the Burundian forces had been deployed in DRC as part of the East African regional force ordered by the East African Community (EAC).
United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, had welcomed the announcement of the ceasefire but was skeptical, urging the M23 to respect the ceasefire in order to create conditions for its full and effective withdrawal from all occupied areas in the eastern DRC.
“The Secretary-General condemns all violence against civilians and renews his call on all Congolese and foreign armed groups to lay down their weapons and disarm unconditionally,” Guterres’ spokesman stated.
The UN chief urged all parties to the conflict to ensure an immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to the affected population in order to ensure protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law.
“He also calls on all actors to refrain from hate speech and incitement to violence,” his spokesman said.
Nonetheless, the UN has reaffirmed its continued support to the Luanda and Nairobi processes, aimed at bringing peace to the DRC.
M23 claims to be “a revolutionary movement to fight bad leadership and bad politics in DR Congo.”
The group had previously been engaged in conflict with government forces from 2012 until its defeat the following year.
The resurgence of the M23 came as the security situation in eastern DRC deteriorated in 2022.
– CAJ News