The M23 rebel group said on Thursday that a ceasefire announced the day before “does not really worry us” while calling for “direct dialogue” with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“M23 saw the document on social media… There was no one at the top (of M23), so it doesn’t really worry us,” Lawrence Kanyuka, political spokesman for the M23 movement, told (March 23) TUSEN .
“Normally, a ceasefire is between the two warring sides,” he added.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta attended a mini-summit in the Angolan capital on Wednesday.
At a press conference in Kinshasa on Thursday, Congolese Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said: “Tomorrow, 6 p.m., the M23 must stop all its attacks.”
M23 rebels lay dormant for years, but took up arms again late last year and have been seen from the outset by Kinshasa as actively supported by Rwanda, which denies the allegations.
The rebels have recently seized large areas of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province in the DRC.
The Luanda mini-summit concluded with an agreement on the cessation of hostilities in eastern DRC from Friday evening, followed by the withdrawal of M23 rebels from “occupied zones” and their “withdrawal to their original positions”.
If the rebels refuse, the East African Regional Force deployed in Goma will “use force” to drive them out, the deal said.
Kanyuka said the rebels declared a “unilateral ceasefire” in April and believed it was still in effect.
“If the government doesn’t attack us tomorrow at 6pm (4pm GMT) or tomorrow morning, we will still be there,” he said.
Otherwise, we “defend ourselves,” he said.
“We are always ready for a direct dialogue with the Congolese government to resolve the root causes of conflict,” he added.
The government in Kinshasa has refused to cooperate with the M23 group, which it calls a “terrorist movement”, as long as it occupies territory in the DRC.
In response to a question, Lutundula ruled out direct negotiations with the M23 group.