Congolese authorities have denied marshaling troops in preparation for combat as M23 rebels claimed on Tuesday, and instead leveled counter-accusations that the fighters are stockpiling arms and reinforcing their frontline positions.
A Kinshasa official, who asked not to be named because a confidentiality clause under ongoing talks bars parties from speaking to the media, said Congolese armed forces have remained in positions agreed by regional leaders that brokered the negotiations.
“The ICGLR declaration in Kampala never stopped the constitutional government of the DRC from protecting its citizens, the official said, “So, M23 allegations are false. Instead, the rebels have defied directives given by ICGLR leaders to return to Runyonyi and Chanzu, positions they held before June 30 (when the violence flared).”
At a media briefing in Kampala, M23 threatened to resume fighting and Mr Francois Rucogoza, head of the group’s peace talks’ delegation, said the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) was set to attack them.
“By refusing to sign a ceasefire, Kinshasa is declaring that it is ready to resume war,” he said, adding: “We don’t understand how we can be involved in a peace process here in Kampala when there is a [government] troop build-up back home.”
We could not independently verify the contrasting accounts offered by the two sides.
In a press conference in Goma, Etienne Kambale and Barry Neguru, both officials of the Coordination of the civil society of North Kivu, accused M23 of massing troops at Mabenga, Munigi and Kalengera against government forces at Rwindi, Goma Airport and Tongo areas.
The officials, who appeared to echo the official version of Kinshasa, alleged that some of the fighters kept within the two-kilometre radius of Goma in violation of regional leaders’ directive to pull at least 20 kilometres out of the city.