M23 rebel group declares unilateral ceasefire in eastern Congo

The group said it was seeking dialogue with the government and that it had withdrawn its troops from the combat zone in order to avoid new confrontations with the Congolese army.

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United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeepers are seen with civilians as they patrol areas affected by the recent attacks by M23 rebels fighters near Rangira in North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 29, 2022. REUTERS/Djaffar Sabiti/File Photo

The M23 rebel group has declared a unilateral ceasefire after several days of clashes with the army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, its spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

The group said it was seeking dialogue with the government and that it had withdrawn its troops from the combat zone in order to avoid new confrontations with the Congolese army.

Congo’s army spokesman and government spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.

Heavy fighting broke out on Monday after the M23 attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns, causing thousands of people to flee into Uganda. 

The M23 seized large swathes of territory during an insurrection in 2012 and 2013, before its fighters were driven out by Congolese and United Nations forces. They have since returned from neighbouring countries to stage attacks.

M23 spokesman Willy Ngoma has previously said that his troops were acting defensively and accused the Congolese army of waging war against them.

There have been regional efforts in recent years to have the M23 demobilize, but its leaders have complained about the slow implementation of a peace accord.

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