DR Congo’s M23 rebel group on Friday said it was ready to observe a ceasefire called for earlier this week by regional leaders, but warned it would defend itself and civilian populations if they came under attack from Congolese forces and their allies, including the genocidal FDLR militia.
In a statement issued Friday, the rebels, who have in recent months taken large parts of DR Congo’s North Kivu Province, also called for a meeting with the lead mediator, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the designated facilitator under the East African Community-led process.
A mini-summit of regional leaders held in Luanda, Angola on Wednesday, that attracted the presidents of Angola, Burundi and DR Congo, as well as Rwanda’s Foreign minister Vincent Biruta (who represented President Paul Kagame) and Kenyatta called for a ceasefire and withdrawal of M23 from areas they’ve recently captured.
M23 has, however, since ruled out withdrawing and instead called for direct talks with Kinshasa, which it has accused of reneging on previous peace agreements.
In their latest statement, the M23 also made reference to a unilateral ceasefire they declared back in April.