Democratic Republic of the Congo: M23 Plans to Withdraw from Occupied Territory

The M23 rebel group reportedly plans to withdraw from territory it controls in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The group says it supports regional peacemaking efforts.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: M23 Plans to Withdraw from Occupied Territory
Image credit: Reuters [via DW]

Facts

  • The M23 rebel group reportedly plans to withdraw from territory it controls in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The group says it supports regional peacemaking efforts.
  • M23 is a predominantly Tutsi group with ethnic ties to Tutsis in neighboring Rwanda. Relations between the group and authorities have been tense, with the Congolese government having blamed a November massacre of 272 civilians in the eastern town of Kishishe on M23.
  • In November, East African leaders reached a ceasefire agreement with M23 fighters in an effort to bring peace to the region. The leaders of DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola signed a letter saying that an Eastern African regional force will intervene if M23 does not comply.
  • Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is facilitating the East African Community (EAC) peace talks aimed at ending the conflict in eastern DRC. M23 — which has been designated a terrorist group by the DRC, US, and UN — has been excluded from the talks despite multiple requests to be included.
  • On Wednesday, M23 accused a Congolese government coalition of targeted killings and breaching the cease-fire agreement. The alleged attacks were aimed at M23’s position in North Kivu province and may alter the group’s plan to withdraw.
  • M23 leaders maintain that their primary goal is peace, and say they are open to dialogue. A spokesman for the group, Lawrence Kanyuka, says that they will abide by the cease-fire as long as the Congolese government stops its attacks.

Sources: Al Jazeera, News 24, Abc, and Inquirer.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Newtimes. M23 is a group dedicated to promoting peace and stopping genocide at the hands of the DRC government. M23 agreed to a cease-fire last month and committed to withdrawing from its positions within the eastern DRC. However, M23 cannot maintain those commitments if the Congolese government continues targeted attacks and killings of Tutsi people.
  • Narrative B, as provided by East African. M23 has been a humanitarian threat to the DRC and all of eastern Africa since its inception. Hundreds have died and thousands have been displaced due to the group’s atrocities — M23 must abide by its ceasefire agreement and follow through on its commitment to withdraw from the DRC.