Ruminants of the March 23rd rebel group crossed back into Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) overnight from their longtime refuge in Uganda, prompting fears that a guerilla conflict put to rest in 2013 could be rekindled.
The last few days have seen a lull in the military push but DRC officials at least 200 former members of M23, an ethnic Tutsi group alleged to be supported by Kampala and Kigali arrived from Kisoro District, Uganda and took over a village in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP
Mende said the Congolese army was fighting two battalions installed in Ishasha village “who were supposed to be in Uganda under the responsibility of that country’s authorities”.
“How could our Ugandan neighbours, with whom we are bound by very serious commitments, allow people who had been living in refugee camps to cross over — armed — into our territory?” he added.
Kinshasa said a former army general, Sultani Makenga, was leading one of the battalions.
No military spokesperson was available to confirm the clashes with M23. Omar Kavota, director of the Centre for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights said Sunday that sources in Ishasha had confirmed the M23 presence there but said “there hasn’t been fighting or clashes yet”.
Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem strongly denied backing the M23 move across the border.
“The fact that Uganda would arm or authorise M23 rebels to be based here (in Uganda) and destabilise the DRC is the fruit of their imagination. Why would Uganda arm the M23?” he said.
Kinshasa’s central government would do well to “focus on the problems of governing its own country”, the minister added.