Western nations condemn rebel advances in DRC

Belgium, France, the UK and the US on Friday strongly condemned the advances of the M23 rebel group in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a joint statement, the four Western nations called on the rebels to "withdraw immediately" and "cease hostilities."

The resumption of violence since 20 October, including in and around the localities of Rutshuru, Kiwanja, Rumangabo and Kibumba, is undermining peace efforts and increasing insecurity and human suffering in the region, the US State Department said in a joint statement with the Belgian, French and British envoys for the Great Lakes, a vast region that includes Rwanda, the DRC and Uganda.

They called on the parties to participate in a new round of peace talks scheduled for next week in Nairobi. All support to non-state armed actors must cease, including all external support for the M23, they said.

A former Tutsi rebel group, the M23 (March 23 Movement) took up arms again late last year, seizing Bunagana, on the border with Uganda, in June. After weeks of calm, M23 went on the offensive again on 20 October, greatly extending the territory under its control.

The Community of East African States, the regional grouping to which both Rwanda and DRC belong, has announced that new peace talks are to start on 21 November in Nairobi. However, the participants have not been specified.

The DRC Government accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23, something UN experts and US officials have also pointed to in recent months. Kigali disputes this, accusing Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR, Hutu rebels who have been operating in the DRC since the end of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda targeting Tutsis and moderate Hutus.



War-displaced people flee towards the city of Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on November 15, 2022. ©BELGA PHOTO (ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP)


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