M23: Protect our members from UN, DRC forces

Leaders of the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are pleading with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to keep rebel soldiers that fled into his country safe.

Earlier this week M23 announced that it’s laying down arms after an onslaught by the Congolese army FARDC backed by the SADC force intervention brigade. The rebel group fears that its fighters would be handed over to the DRC government, as agreed to by leaders of SADC and the Great Lakes region.

A joint summit of SADC and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) held in Pretoria on Monday resolved that any country that finds foreign rebel fighters on its soil should apprehend and hand them over to their country of origin.

M23, however, says its "ex-combatants" – who the group says disobeyed their commander’s orders by crossing into Uganda – "feel insecure by a process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration under the supervision of the same forces that fought them while refusing any proposal to cease fire for more than a year," according to a letter from M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa to Museveni. 

"They [M23 fighters] are referring here to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Armed Forces and the United Nations Mission in Congo [Monusco] in conduct of the process," Bisimwa said.

"They remember many massacres that occurred after their demobilisation and reintegration at the end of previous rebellions," he said.

Senior leaders of M23 and some of its members have belonged to several rebel groups before. They were integrated into the FARDC but mutinied early in 2012, accusing Joseph Kabila’s government of not fulfilling all aspects of the peace agreement.  

SADC and the ICGLR are expecting M23 and the DRC government to seal and sign a peace deal by next week, after the rebel group denounced the 20-month rebellion and said it would seek a political solution. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Mmanaledi Mataboge
Guest Author

Related stories

Why Uganda needs a Stella Nyanzi in Parliament

Many Ugandans find Stella Nyanzi’s mode of protest, including vulgar insults and stripping to make a point, unsettling. But her challenge to the country’s patriarchy could bring much-needed reform

The SADC will regret its approach to Mozambique’s insurgence

The SADC has been lackadaisical in its response to the insurgency in Mozambique and in so doing, is putting several other southern African countries at risk

Bobi Wine presents his presidential credentials

The Ugandan opposition leader believes he is best-placed to lead an opposition coalition

Pandemic-induced human rights violations a double tragedy to humanity

The conflation of human rights violations and a pandemic leave the most vulnerable marginalised. Equitable and democratic societies are needed to fight against this

We were arrested in Uganda while protesting for black lives

White supremacy must be held to account if systemic anti-blackness is to be rooted out of society

Meet Katoto, Museveni’s big fan

The TV cartoon character — think Homer Simpson meets Robin Hood — with added propaganda

Jailed journalist a symbol of a disillusioned Zimbabwe

Hopewell Chin’ono backed President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he succeeded Robert Mugabe. Now he’s in jail

Sisulu axes another water board

Umgeni Water’s board in KwaZulu-Natal was appointed irregularly by her predecessor, the water and sanitation minister claims

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday