M23 Rebel Leader Rejects Disarmament in Video Message.
In a rare video appearance, Sultani Makenga, the leader of the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, dismissed the idea of his side disarming. He insisted that peace could only be achieved if the government desired it, stating, “there will be peace” if they want peace and “war if they want war.”
As part of the peace process in eastern DR Congo, regional leaders had called for the M23 and other rebel groups to disarm and be housed in special military camps. However, Makenga stated that the disarmament did not concern them.
In a message shared by the M23’s spokesperson, Makenga mentioned that the group had complied with the request to cease fire and withdraw. They are now waiting for the government to agree to negotiate with them. However, President Felix Tshisekedi previously stated that negotiations with the M23 were impossible.
After a year of clashes between the Congolese army and the M23, relative calm has been observed in North Kivu province since March following a ceasefire call from regional leaders. The conflict has led to the displacement of over 500,000 people.
The DR Congo authorities and a recent UN report have accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 by sending its soldiers to fight alongside the rebels. The Rwandan government has consistently denied these allegations, dismissing the UN report as propagating “dangerous distortions and fabrications.”