DR Congo rebel infight forces hundreds to flee to Rwanda

Source http://english.eastday.com/e/130317/u1a7262765.html

KINSHASA, March 16 -- Hundreds of the rebel M23 group in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) fled to neighboring Rawanda after days of infight between two factions, according to information monitored here on Saturday.

Sultani Makenga, who heads one of the M23 factions, took over the areas abandoned by the rival faction in the eastern province of North Kivu, his spokesman Vianney Kazarama said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Rwandan officials reported an influx of people fleeing the rebel infight from its western neighbor in the past two days.

Among the hundreds of rebels found on the side of Rwanda was Jean-Marie Runiga, the leader of another M23 faction. Runiga was already arrested by Rwandan authorities, Kazarama declared.

Runiga's faction was routed with some reportedly surrendering to UN peacekeepers in DR Congo, some going into hiding in forests and others to Rwanda.

The infight is seen as an opportunity for the battered government to sign a peace deal with a weakened M23 movement, which surged in April 2012 to pose a serious threat in months of advances.

M23 captured the provincial town of Goma on Nov. 20, 2012, only to withdraw 10 days later after the mediation by the 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Differences remain over a peace accord between the government and M23, despite the ICGLR mediation and an agreement signed last month by African leaders in Addis Ababa on an international neutral force to be deployed at hotspots in the Central African country.

The full name of the M23 is the March 23 Movement, which refers to the date when peace accords were signed in 2009 between the Congolese government and the then rebel National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP).

Under the agreements, former CNDP fighters were to be integrated into the national army, but some of them said they were not treated fairly and that the peace treaty was never fully implemented.

After launching an insurgency in the form of M23, the rebels were initially loyal to Bosco Ntanganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ntanganda is suspected to be hiding in forests after the defeat of Runiga, who was dismissed as M23's political leader last month by military leader Makenga, sparking the infight between the two factions.

More than 475,000 people have been internally displaced and over 75,000 others fled to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda in the year-long conflict.


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