Fighting resumes between army, M23 rebels in DR Congo

In this May 24, 2022 photo, people walk on the road near Kibumba, north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, as they flee fighting between Congolese forces and M23 rebels in North Kivu. (MOSES SAWASAWA / AP)

KINSHASA – Fighting resumed early Monday between the army and rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23) in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) confirmed on Monday.

The FARDC "woke up under fire from the M23 enemy and its allies" early Monday in the Ishangi area, located in the Rutshuru territory of the North Kivu province, said Colonel Ndjike Kaiko, spokesman for FARDC based in Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

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Over the past month, intense fighting has resumed between the DRC armed forces and M23 rebels in bordering North Kivu province

For his part, Bertrand Bisimwa, one of the leaders of the M23, said on his Twitter account that the FARDC attacked the M23 position with the idea of sabotaging the recommendations of the UN Security Council which calls for the resumption of the Nairobi dialogue, an ongoing negotiation bringing together the Congolese authorities and several armed groups to find a peaceful solution.

In a press conference held late Sunday in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi for the first time openly accused the Rwandan government of supporting M23 rebels in their recent offensives on Congolese soil.

Over the past month, intense fighting has resumed between the DRC armed forces and M23 rebels in North Kivu, a province in northeastern DRC bordering Rwanda. Kinshasa accused Kigali of supporting the rebel movement. Rwanda has repeatedly denied any involvement.

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Congolese army soldiers return to Kibumba with their luggage and weapons after spending time on the frontlines a few miles from the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on June 1, 2022. (GUERCHOM NDEBO / AFP)

The M23 is a group of former rebels of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). The name came from the March 23, 2009, agreement between the CNDP and the Congolese government.

M23, who claims the DRC government had violated the 2009 peace deal, briefly seized Goma, capital of the North Kivu province, in late 2012 before being pushed back by the army the following year. Since late 2021, M23 has resumed fighting with the army in the region.