DR Congo says M23 movement must disband

DR Congo Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda. PHOTO | JUAKALI KAMBALE 

DR Congo’s Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda has warned the M23 rebels to disband their military activities otherwise the UN's "offensive" peacekeeping brigade to be sent to the eastern region will do it for them.

During a press conference in Kinshasa on April 1, 2013, the minister told the rebels to understand what is currently happening at the international level and “behave accordingly”.

He said: “The M23 rebels can agitate as they want. We were willing to reach a solid political agreement with them. Currently, there is no more way to recycle the so-called rebellion specialists in order to integrate them in the loyal army.

“The remaining alternative way is to stop existing as a politico-military movement”.

Mr Tshibanda described the establishment of the UN’s offensive brigade as a big diplomatic achievement for DR Congo, but not a panacea.

“We have first to see and appreciate the results of the operation on the ground, namely the disarmament and the neutralisation of the M23 rebel movement”, he said.
The Foreign minister’s statement is apparently linked to the reaction of the M23 movement’s new political chairman, Mr Bertrand Bisimwa, who declared on Sunday at the rebel headquarters in Bunagana that the sending of the UN brigade will be considered an act of war.

“Instead of encouraging a political commitment and supporting the political negotiations being held in Kampala [between the M23 rebel movement and the government delegation] the UN prefers fighting one of the partners in the negotiations”, Mr Bisimwa complained.

The UN offensive brigade is supposed to be deployed in eastern DR Congo by the end of April. It will be based in Goma, the city the M23 took control of for about a month in November last year.

Civil society groups in the North Kivu province of eastern DR Congo hope that the UN troops will bring sustainable peace to a region where this has been elusive for 20 years.

“The prospects of development for the two provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu have been totally disorganised by the cyclical wars and rebellions beginning the early Nineties,” says local civil society spokesman Omar Kavota.

“People cannot go farming anymore because of the unrest. Children cannot go to school for the same reasons. Beyond that, women and young girls are victims of mass rapes. Only peace can bring hope and development for this region and we are sure the UN offensive troops will do that,” he added.

There is apprehension in DR Congo, though, that the new development come when Rwanda has joined the UN Security Council as a rotating member.

The DR Congo government accuses Rwanda of incubating and backing the M23 movement.

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