Africa leaders urge pullout of armed groups in east DRC by March 30

AFP , Friday 17 Feb 2023

African leaders called on Friday for all armed groups to withdraw from occupied areas in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by the end of next month, the regional EAC bloc said.

M23 soldiers
M23 soldiers leave Rumangabo camp after the meeting between EACRF officials and M23 rebels during the handover ceremony at Rumangabo camp in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on January 06, 2023.


The heads of state "directed the withdrawal of all armed groups by 30th March 2023 from occupied areas", the East Africa Community said on Twitter after a mini-summit in Addis Ababa.

They also recommended an "immediate ceasefire" by all armed groups and the resettlement of people displaced by the violence in the restive east of the country, it added.

The meeting of the seven-nation EAC took place on the eve of an African Union summit opening on Saturday in the Ethiopian capital.

An EAC military force deployed late last year to try to bring peace to the turbulent east of the DRC, where a resurgent rebel group known as the M23 has seized swathes of territory.

The M23 rebels re-emerged from dormancy in late 2021, claiming that the government in Kinshasa had ignored a pledge to integrate them into the army.

The Tutsi-led group subsequently won a series of victories against the army and occupied chunks of territory in North Kivu, including much of the region north of Goma.

The DRC accuses its smaller central African neighbor Rwanda of backing the M23, a charge that Rwanda denies.

UN experts, the United States, and several western states agree with the DRC, however.

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