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DRC M23 rebels declare ceasefire

30 August 2013, 18:02

Goma - Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 rebels suspended fighting and withdrew from the frontline on Friday to allow an independent investigation into shelling that hit neighbouring Rwanda, its leader said.

Rwanda accused DRC on Thursday of shelling its territory and said such "provocation" would not be tolerated, raising fears of an escalation in the conflict in eastern DRC where army troops and the UN peacekeepers have been battling the rebels.

The United Nations has thrown its weight behind DRC's government, saying its peacekeepers witnessed the M23 rebels firing shells into Rwanda.

"We have just asked our forces to withdraw from the Kanyaruchinya front line and cease combat so as to allow for an investigation into who was shelling Rwanda," M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa told France's RFI radio.

Bisimwa said the decision would have immediate effect but the M23 would hold onto other positions. He asked Congo's government to resume negotiations to end the conflict in the mineral-rich east of the vast central African state.

The M23 rebels, named after a 23 March 2009, peace deal that ended four years of rebellion in eastern DRC, took up arms last year saying the government had failed to honour the agreement, which included integrating them into the army.

After seizing Goma in November, the rebels further demanded DRC’s President Joseph Kabila hold national talks, release political prisoners and disband the electoral commission.

A military spokesperson for the UN mission in DRC (Monusco) said there was no fighting along the front on Friday and the rebels seemed to have pulled back.

- Reuters


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