On Tuesday, President Felix Tshisekedi said that the M23 rebel group had not completely evacuated the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) regions that it had taken control of. He also accused the militia of fabricating an agreed-upon withdrawal of its men.
As part of efforts to put an end to a conflict that has displaced at least 450,000 people and sparked a diplomatic crisis between the DRC and neighboring Rwanda, regional leaders brokered an agreement in November that called for the Tutsi-led group to withdraw from recently captured positions by January 15.
“Despite the international pressure, the group is still there,” Tshisekedi said during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“They pretend to move, they act like they are moving, but they’re not. They’re simply moving around, redeploying elsewhere, and they stay in the towns that they have captured,” he said.
His remarks represented the DRC government’s most forthright position on the execution of the peace agreement to date.
“President Tshisekedi has only this to say. It is the government that does not respect the ceasefire, it also continues to arm armed groups,” said Lawrence Kanyaka, a spokesman for the M23.
An internal United Nations intelligence report from earlier in January stated that it was impossible to validate the M23’s alleged retreat from some regions owing to ongoing troop movement, and that its analysis suggested the organisation had taken over fresh territory elsewhere.
Tshisekedi once more claimed that Rwanda was escalating the crisis by aiding the rebels, a charge that was also made by Western nations and U.N. experts. Rwanda vehemently disputes this.
Although the city authorities have not given their approval, a number of civil society organisations have called for a march to be held on Wednesday in Goma, the capital of the province, to protest implementation delays for the M23 withdrawal.
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