News / Africa

Congo Rebels Pledge to Leave Goma By Friday

M23 rebels patrol around Congo's Central Bank in Goma, eastern Congo, November 26, 2012.
M23 rebels patrol around Congo's Central Bank in Goma, eastern Congo, November 26, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
The political chief of Congolese rebel group M23 says his forces will leave the captured city of Goma by Friday as a sign of good will, even if the government has not addressed their grievances.

The rebels seized the eastern city last week and have since taken the town of Sake to the west.

Jean-Marie Runiga of M23 told VOA News Tuesday that if regional leaders think the departure will help bring peace, then they will do so by the end of the week. Runiga said even if M23 withdraws it does not mean the group will back down on its demands for foreign groups and the Congolese army to leave the region.

Earlier Tuesday, Rene Abandi, M23's director of external relations, told VOA the group's military chief had promised that his forces would leave Goma as soon as possible, after a meeting with the army chiefs of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

Regional leaders, including DRC President Joseph Kabila, had demanded that M23 pull out of Goma by the end of Monday.  

A week after the M23 rebels took control of Goma with little resistance from the Congolese army, the group's president, Jean-Marie Runiga, said they are now willing to withdraw their military force.

But, as he told reporters Tuesday in the city, they still want Kabila to meets their demands, which includes the release of political prisoners and a national dialogue with the opposition.

Who Are the M23 Rebels?

  • Named for March 23, the date of a 2009 peace deal
  • Contains fighters once loyal to a rebel army who assimilated into the DRC army, then defected
  • Formed in early 2012
  • Dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group
  • Also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army
  • UN experts say the group is backed by Rwanda, which Rwanda denies
“A retreat, yes,” he said, “but there are some conditions and if Mr. Kabila respects these conditions we will retreat.”

The rebels have been sending mixed signals about whether they really intend to leave the city.

Earlier in the day, the head of external relations for M23, Rene Amandi said the rebels would withdraw as soon as possible to demonstrate their willingness to negotiate with Kinshasa.

The Ugandan military, which has been organizing talks between M23 and the Congolese government, also had a different impression of the agreement. Uganda's defense chief, General Aronda Nyakairima, told reporters Tuesday in Kampala the rebels had agreed to begin the withdrawal Tuesday with “no conditions.”

  • M23 leader Jean-Marie Runiga arrives to address media in Goma, DRC, November 27, 2012.
  • A boy carries a goat along a road near the town of Sake, 27 kilometers west of Goma, DRC, November 27, 2012.
  • A woman carries her child in Minova, 45 kilometers west of Goma, DRC, November 26, 2012.
  • The South Africa contingent of the U.N. peacekeepers in Congo erect a razor wire barrier around Goma airport, DRC, November 26, 2012.
  • Congolese army soldiers sit in a military truck in Minova, 45 kilometers west of Goma, DRC, November 26, 2012.
  • M23 rebels patrol around Congo's Central Bank in Goma, DRC, November 26, 2012.
  • With IDP camps filling up since the rebellion in eastern Congo began in April, newly displaced people are sleeping in churches until they can find a place to settle, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow.VOA)
  • Families flee fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in the town of Sake, DRC, November 23, 2012. G. Joselow/VOA)

Meantime, Runiga, who just returned from talks with Kabila in Kampala, indicated the rebels remain prepared to fight if government forces launch an offensive against them.

“It is not the aim of the men of M23 to attack,” he said, “but if we are attacked, we reserve the right to respond and defend ourselves.”

African leaders at the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region over the weekend gave M23 48 hours to withdraw from Goma, a deadline that passed Monday.

The United Nations and the U.S. State Department also have called on the rebels to leave the city.

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Janey Baby Le Stryker from: East Helsinki
November 28, 2012 7:37 AM
How well does the leader of the DRC work with the real LRA'S El Tigre? I ask because El Tigre's work is in conjunction with Doctor's Without Borders and for some reason I feel this tension is due to cartel issues rather than "control" of certain areas. El Tigre needs to be allowed to maintain because of the amount of man made viruses that keep popping up via the CIA & Gestapo agencies. Personally I wish El Tigre could come for a visit and perhaps find himself a little house and get "Out of Africa". Has the EuroFranco M16 infiltrated because someone thinks there is oil in Africa? It will be only another Texas or even less, Africa's geological land mass doesn't really cry oil to me. Never trust the French especially Franco Italianos who are in reality French Nazi Regime.

by: David from: Washington DC
November 27, 2012 10:52 AM
Kabila, UN and M23 are manipulated this crisis, they betray and sabotage DRC sovereignty while 8 millions of Congolese innocent died, multinational companies increases theirs profit by trafficking or looting blood mineral from Congo via Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Anyway, I suggest the USA, UK, Belgium and others to review theirs foreign policy toward former Zaire. The future of DRC and multinational companies depend on rail road and pipe line from Eastern to Western Congo in terminal port Banana to control import & export, a new leadership and Army. We need help from World Bank, IMF and community international to rebuild this country.

by: hane from: dakar
November 27, 2012 7:45 AM
always africa, war is in africa, poor is africa, disease is africa, when african can dream another africa

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs