Rwanda: M23’s General Makenga Breaks Silence On Proposed Cantonment

General Sultani Makenga, the commander of the M23 rebel group, says the proposed “disarmament and cantonment do not concern us” and insists on direct peace talks with the DR Congo government.

Speaking to a news reporter, Makenga said disarmament and cantonment of the M23 elements was “propaganda from the Kinshasa government, which thinks that everyone is fooled.”

The M23 insurgency resurfaced in November 2021 in North Kivu province, citing previous agreements and concerns ignored by the Congolese government.

Despite regional peace efforts to end the conflict in eastern DR Congo, Kinshasa has ruled out talks with the M23 and categorises it as a terrorist movement.

Makenga said the M23 had observed all the recommendations of the summit of the East African Community (EAC) leaders held in Bujumbura, on April 4.

“The leaders recommended three things that concern the government and M23 – a ceasefire, the withdrawal of M23, and frank and direct dialogue between M23 and the government,” he said.

“For the respect and trust that we have for EAC Heads of State, the M23 did its part and was only waiting for the dialogue where we are going to discuss the deeper causes of the conflict.

En exclusivité la réponse du Général Major Sultani MAKENGA concernant le cantonnement.— Lawrence KANYUKA (@LawrenceKanyuka) July 7, 2023

“The cantonment and disarmament do not concern us in any way,” he said.

Since December 2022, the M23 has withdrawn from some of its positions, and handed them over to the EAC regional force, as per the Luanda Summit of November 23, 2022.

At a meeting held in Nairobi on June 30 to discuss the issue of cantonment of armed groups, the facilitator of the East African Community (EAC)-led peace efforts for DR Congo, Uhuru Kenyatta, said all parties should be consulted and reach an agreement regarding cantonment matters.

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