Relief in DR Congo’s Rumangabo as M23 Rebels Quit Base

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Last Updated: January 07, 2023, 08:41 IST

Congolese M23 rebels are seen as they withdraw from the 3 antennes location in Kibumba, near Goma, North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Image: Reuters)

Congolese M23 rebels are seen as they withdraw from the three antennes location in Kibumba, close to Goma, North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Image: Reuters)

M23 Rebels took up arms in opposition to the Congolese authorities after alleging that the latter did not combine the rebels in the military

The M23 insurgent group gave again a key navy base in jap DRCongo on Friday, the newest transfer in its pledge to retreat from conquered territories after months of advancing towards Goma.

Local residents gave a cautious welcome to the handover ceremony close to Rumangabo, the Congolese military’s largest base in the area, simply 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the capital.

“We’re blissful as a result of God has freed us from this open-air jail,” said Nyiramwiza, 35, carrying a baby on her back.

“It was a nightmare. We were even scared to go the field just to get water.”

Taken over by the Tutsi-led M23 two months in the past, Rumangabo was silent and already overgrown with vegetation that made it really feel deserted, based on AFP journalists allowed to cowl the handover.

It was overseen by Kenyan forces deployed by the East African Community (EAC), and adopted an identical handover final month at a base in Kibumba, round 20 kilometres to the south.

But even after promising to drag again its positions, M23 forces have gained floor elsewhere, elevating doubts about the way forward for the year-long battle.

“EAC forces will proceed to coordinate M23’s systematic retreat and asks different armed teams to place down their weapons,” said General Emmanuel Kaputa Kasenga, deputy commander of the East African contingent.

‘Living in prison’

Imani Nzenze, described as an M23 colonel, told attendees that the rebels, who captured Goma in 2012 before being driven out the following year, had no plans to “conquer territory.”

But he made no secret of the group’s intention to retaliate if attacked by the DRCongo military or its allies.

“The rebels are leaving however they’re nonetheless in different areas,” said Innocent Bwenge, 38, adding that his village home near Rumangabo was ransacked during the base’s occupation.

Another woman, 65-year-old Semahane, said her children had been trapped in Goma since the start of the fighting.

“We’ve had no peace because the road is blocked. It’s like living in prison,” she stated.

Abandoned properties with smashed entrance doorways had been strewn alongside the freeway main from Rumangabo to Goma, an space that noticed fierce combating in November.

No vehicles had been seen on the highway partially blocked by a destroyed military tank.

M23, whose identify stands for “the March 23 Movement,” again took up its weapons against the government in late 2021, accusing Kinshasa of failing to respect promises to reintegrate the rebels into the army.

After M23 announced its withdrawal from Kibumba last month, the Congolese army slammed the move as a sham designed to distract as the group reinforced its positions elsewhere.

Since then, clashes between the M23, Congolese troops and rival militias have continued.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 workers and is printed from a syndicated information company feed)

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