The March 23 Movement (M23) has accused the government of violent witch hunt against its members even after they unconditionally surrendered.
The armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in the territory of Rutsuru in North Kivu are repeatedly attacking former members of the M23 rebel movement.
Through an official statement of March 25, this movement considers that this “violence” is a “deliberate choice” by government to wage war on the “citizens” who offered their unconditional surrender in response to the general appeal by the President at the beginning of his mandate within the framework of his program of national reconciliation and pacification of the East of the country.
The M23 says that it first of all sent several letters to the President and to the coordinator of the National Monitoring Mechanism of the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement to offer its unconditional surrender and under the orders of the Head of State.
Following this perspective, this movement recalls that in its letter of September 21, 2020, it reiterated to President Felix Tshisekedi the surrender of M23 fighters and the submission to his orders of all his political and military personnel.
“We then, on our own initiative, sent our delegates to Kinshasa to speed up the materialization of our unconditional surrender,” said Willy Ngoma, spokesperson for the rebel movement, who lists a series of correspondence addressed to the President.
The M23 also indicates that its delegates stayed in Kinshasa for 14 months during which they had several working sessions with the authorities of the country before they were asked to return to the base to await the start of the surrender operations.
“To our great surprise, two weeks later, the FARDC attacked our fighters and had to defend themselves”, says the rebel movement operating in North Kivu.
The M23 even maintains that at the end of the work held in February 2021 in Kinshasa, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Interior at the time Gilbert Kankonde had sent a letter to the President to inform him of the ” total surrender” of the M23 and solicit funds in order to implement this operation without a follow-up being reserved for his request.
Thus, the M23 considers that the military operations that the FARDC have officially assumed to date against its combatants undoubtedly reflect “the definitive choice of the Government to wage war against the M23 instead of accepting the unconditional surrender of its combatants”.
“Our Organization, which has been able to wait tirelessly for nine years during the implementation of the peace process, deplores this option of violence, the unacknowledged objective of which is to maintain instability and underdevelopment in the east of the country,” deplores this rebel movement.
In January, at least 32 soldiers, including a FARDC colonel, were killed in an attack attributed to the M23 rebel movement which targeted an army position in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The army had promised to avenge its people.