No Ceasefire Agreement, No Talks – M23

Jean Marie Runiga addressing a press conference on Thursday
Jean Marie Runiga (2nd R) addressing a press conference on Thursday

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebel group has threatened to pull out of peace talks with the Democratic Republic of Congo government unless President Joseph Kabila signs a ceasefire agreement.

Talks are due to resume in the Uganda’s capital, Kampala today Friday.

The leader of the group’s political wing Jean-Marie Runiga made this stern revelation while meeting members of the press at the group’s base in Bunagana, east of the DRC.

“If Kinshasa continues to refuse to sign a ceasefire, M23 is going to ask its delegation to return to DRC”, Mr Runiga said.

He added “”We will wait and when they say, ‘We’re ready to sign’, we’ll go back.”

However, a DRC government spokesman while speaking to the media said the Kinshasa government rejected the rebel demand he described as “pointless”.

A first attempt to negotiate an end to the nine-month rebellion in the east of the country failed last month.

As many as 800,000 people have been displaced since the rebels took up arms against the Kinshasa government last May, accusing it of failing to honour a 2009 peace deal to integrate rebels into the national army.

The rebels, led by Bosco Ntaganda who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, made rapid gains late last year including the seizure of the eastern city of Goma though they were forced to withdraw.

Their withdrawal from the city was initiated by leaders of the International Conference of the Great lakes Region meeting in Kampala in the wake of Goma’s capture.

President Joseph Kabila Joseph Kabila has little control over eastern Congo.

Runiga also criticized the United Nations for its move to impose sanctions on the group.

The United Nations Security Council on January 1 slapped an arms embargo on the group and their alleged Rwandan allies, the FDLR, amid a rise of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern region.

Below is the full Press statement

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear journalists,

This is a memorable occasion for us to hold this press conference, the first for the new year 2013 for which we present, in turn, our best wishes. This conference also takes place in Kampala on the eve of the resuming of direct negotiations between our Movement, the M23 and the Government of Kinshasa ON January 4th anniversary of the martyrs of independence.

Indeed, there is no need to remind the national and international opinion that the M23 is not a negative group, is not intended to be, more or less, the vector of any balkanization or used by any external aggression as  Kinshasa government usually continue to accuse us by his  propaganda to evade legitimate claims of M23 which  are legitimate. The M23 is a Congolese revolutionary movement that fights for republican values ​​which objective is to restore the dignity of the Congolese.

Our speech will be focused on three essential points:

1. The resume of the  negotiations in Kampala and the bellicose intentions of Kinshasa occur in strengthening all fronts by men and military equipment.

2. Our reaction to the Security Council sanctions against our movement especially its President and Colonel Badege.

Indeed, the spirit of the communiqué issued by the Heads of State of the CIRGL was clear when we were asked to leave the city of Goma, they  asked also the Kinshasa government to listen to the M23 and answer its legitimate claims. It turned out that beyond the mere fact of us and when it creates the rumor about a possible military offensive against the city of Goma, the Kinshasa Government protested against any possibility of signing the cease fire we observe since we left the city of Goma on 2 December 2012. A cease-fire between our respective armies guarantee the impossibility of any resumption of hostilities and reassure our population who is fleeing Goma for a secure place. The position of the Government of Kinshasa is clear evidence to continue the war. President Kabila, in his last speech to the nation, has stated its willingness to explore the military option, after the Government spokesman has called the dialogue of Kampala a distraction. It can‘t be mistaken about the actual position of the Government of the Kinshasa about the Negotiations of Kampala, Kampala it serve Kabila as a diversion to prepare the war.

We observe on the front lines a reinforcement in military materials and impressive coalition between FARDC-FDLR and other NYATURA-May to May are deployed and are now ready to fight. These are the position and reinforcement:

– GOMA: 41st Battalion FARDC commandos, reinforced by other units while still saying that it is only the 41st Battalion  who are occupied the Goma town. Also we observe the reinforcement  of the  FDLR and one battalion from Colonel Janvier  Mayi Mayi. whose elements are in civilian clothes directly involved in the crimes and are abusing civilian in the town of  Goma;
– Mudja: A battalion of the 802nd regiment FARDC and a battalion of FDLR;
– RUSAYO: FDLR battalion;
– Kanyati: FDLR battalion;
– TONGO: A commando regiment commanded by colonel NGUNZ HEROD, the 812th regiment commanded by Col. MUDAHUNGA more FDLR
– Rwindi: Head Quarter of 82nd sector of the FARDC;
– At the entry of Vitshumbi: 805th regiment commanded by Lt.Col. Alexis MUNYAKAZI;
– 17km on the road Vitshumbi: 42nd commando battalion commended by Lt.Col. Mamadou and strengthened by the FDLR

– A Kibirizi Kishishi, Bambo FDLR battalion commanded by Lt.Col. Kalebu Ezra.

– Ishasha, Nyamilima Kisharu,: 809th regiment commanded by Colonel Thiery ILUNGA and reinforced by the FDLR and Mayi-Mayi Shetani.
Other forces are deployed in the villages of  Mubambiro, SAKE, KIROCHE, Ishasha and MINOVA.

Military Helicopters of the government army continue to fly the M23 safe space during the night military needs, which constitutes an act of provocation against our forces.

According to the report of the MONUSCO Ref No: CLA-MP-94/12-12 of 17 December 2012, had similar supply arms and ammunition over 4,000 FDLR combatants installed in KAZIBAKE in the territory of  Bashali Mokoto, in locality of  Lukweti / NDURO .

By the requirement of signing a cease-fire, we want to ensure, on one hand, the end of the war and defeat the military option of the Kinshasa Government and the other negotiations subsided. This is why on our arrival in Kampala, we will present on the negotiating table a draft agreement of cease-fire.  Demand a cease-fire is not a sign of weakness but a political act that reflects the actual parties to continue the search for solutions to the problems by peaceful means. It is also a sign of respect for our people who suffered so much from the ravages of war.

About the Security Council sanctions against our movement, we present our regrets to see that the United Nations take decisions with serious repercussions on a basis of wrong  reports from NGO (Human Rights Watch, for example) and other experts whose partiality is proven. Should remind you here that the team that made these reports have never been made a research in the field of the so called events to look for the realities? What credit should be given to the fact-finding missions to extort false testimony, cheaply, with poor women the power to impoverished Kinshasa? Of such reports should not dictate the decisions of an international respected and respectable as the United Nations.

How to understand that this institution, driven by countries whose majority consists of the most advanced countries of the planet in terms of democracy and justice can condemn people by depriving them of the right of defense …

It is surprising that such bloodthirsty massacre ASSAD, live their own people, on all channels of television a World without any sanction is taken against them by the Security Council of the UN. What it is claimed that we do here is worse than what is happening in Syria that we deserve this special treatment?

The Security Council, rather than thwart the peace process currently underway, should rather accompany, encourage and support because only the dialogue between belligerents carries real solutions to the crisis. His position would only reinforce the militarist option of the Congolese Government.