Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said new clashes between M23 rebels and soldiers erupted following the rebels’ declaration that the ceasefire agreement between DRC and Rwanda is “irrelevant.”
“We are Congolese, not Rwandan,” M23 spokesperson Willy Ngoma said. “If there’s a ceasefire, it can only be between us and the DR Congo government.”
Ngoma also said the latest clashes with M23 started when the armed forces attacked them first in Kanyabusoro, Rwanda.
On Wednesday, the Congolese presidency said Rwanda and DRC agreed to a de-escalation process after one-day negotiations between their presidents, mediated by Angola, amid rising fighting and violence along their shared eastern border due to the activities of the M23 rebel group.
The agreement also asked for the withdrawal of M23 fighters from DR Congo.
The M23 or “March 23 Movement” was first seen in 2021 when it briefly captured the eastern DRC city of Goma before a joint UN-DRC offensive drove them out.
M23 resumed fighting again in November after being quiet for many years, accusing the government of failing to incorporate its fighters into the army as agreed.
In recent weeks, Rwanda and DRC have accused each other of carrying out cross-border shelling, triggering international appeals for calm.
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