Eastern Congo’s M23 rebels retreat from occupied territory

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KIBUMBA, Congo — Eastern Congo’s M23 rebels retreated Friday from among the territory it held, the group’s first withdrawal because it started seizing swaths of land greater than a 12 months in the past.

The rebels left the Kibumba space and its positions have been taken over by the East African Regional Pressure — a multinational drive charged with defending the realm. This retreat is in step with an settlement made final month at a summit in Angola, Lawrence Kanyuka the M23’s political spokesman mentioned in a press release.

Kibumba, within the Nyiragongo territory of Congo’s North Kivu province, has been held by the M23 since November and it was the closest that the rebels obtained to Goma, japanese Congo’s regional capital.

Chatting with reporters Friday from Kibumba, Gen. Jeff Nyagah, commander of the East African drive, referred to as on the civilian inhabitants to return house promising that they might be protected.

“We are determined to conduct operations in strict compliance with international humanitarian law and other conventions,” he mentioned. “We appreciate the complex nature of the operating environment but our zeal and determination remain undeterred.”

The M23 rebels are largely Congolese ethnic Tutsis who grew to become outstanding 10 years in the past when their fighters seized Goma, japanese Congo’s largest metropolis on the border with Rwanda. The group derives its identify from a March 23, 2009, peace deal, which it accuses the Congo authorities of not implementing. The group has been largely dormant for practically a decade.

Since resurfacing greater than a 12 months in the past, the M23 have been accused of killing civilians and seizing land in japanese Congo’s Rutshuru territory.

Earlier this month the United Nations accused the rebels of being liable for massacring greater than 130 civilians in two villages. The group is believed to be receiving weapons and troops from neighboring Rwanda, in response to a report by U.N. consultants.

The rebels’ withdrawal Friday comes on the heels of rising worldwide stress on Rwanda to stop assist for the M23. Earlier this week the governments of France and Germany every condemned Rwanda for supporting the M23. In a tweet earlier this week, the German overseas ministry’s director for sub-Saharan Africa, Christoph Retzlaff, mentioned the M23 ought to shortly contribute to an answer to the “disastrous” disaster.

Whereas the M23’s withdrawal from one among its positions in japanese Congo is a primary step towards a decision, it stays a fraction of the areas that the rebels management, say regional consultants.

“Hours ago, they were still engaged in fighting in Masisi territory showing opposite intentions. They should withdraw from all positions, their commanders and their backers involved in serious crimes should be held accountable,” mentioned Thomas Fessy of Human Rights Watch.

It’s unclear how far more territory the group will cede. It nonetheless accuses the Congo authorities of attacking its positions and killing civilians.

Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro reported from Beni.

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