President Félix Tshisekedi has rejected demands of integrating the M23 rebels into the national army commonly referred to as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC).
The head of state made the remarks during a speech delivered on the 62nd independence anniversary in the capital Kinshasa on Thursday.
In January this year, the M23 which also calls itself the Congolese Revolutionary Army resumed attacks in self defence after the Congolese army launched attacks against their bases.
The rebels had remained silent since 2013 after they entered mediate negotiations with the DRC government and signed a peace treaty in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Provisions of the peace deal include the dissolution of M23 as an armed group, as well as demobilization and a renunciation of violence.
“Our Organization has tirelessly waited for nine years during the implementation of the peace process. We sent a letter to the President informing him about our total surrender.To our surprise, two, the FARDC attacked our fighters and had to defend themselves,” said Willy Ngoma, spokesperson for the rebel movement.
The rebels have since launched a protracted military war against the government forces and liberated Bunagana border town and pushed towards Rumangabo and vast areas of the territory.
President Tshisekedi has repeatedly doubted the capacity of the rebels and accused neighbouring Rwanda of aiding the rebels with sophisticated guns and highly trained special force units fighting along the rebels a claim Kigali has denied and also rejected by the UN.
During his speech on independence day, Tshisekedi called on all Congolese citizens to consider the territorial integrity of the DRC as a vital issue for which neither transaction nor compromise will be admitted.
“This is the place to recall that our option for peace and our sense of good neighborly relations are not a weakness. The Congolese, people who love peace and justice, will not accept being constantly attacked,” He said.
Kigali accuses Kinshasa of supporting the Front Démocratique de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan rebel group composed largely of perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi which claimed over a million lives.
”Congolese Military FARDC provides FDLR rebels with military uniforms and puts them on front line. They organize meetings and synchronize plans of intended courses of action. It is a known reality. At the end, they come with MONUSCO under what is termed as support to FARDC,” says Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta.
According to field reports, the coalition of Congolese army, FDLR elements, Mai mai and Monusco are jointly fighting the m23 rebels for the past several weeks.
M23 insists it is fighting ethnic Hutu groups to protect the minority Tutsi living along the border between Congo and Rwanda.