UN troops in DRC carry out “strategic withdrawal” from key army base | News of armed groups
Analysts say the loss of the base is a setback for the DPRK’s war against armed groups in the eastern region.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has withdrawn troops from the eastern military base of Rumangabo, ceding ground in the battle against the M23 rebel group.
UN troops have been supporting Congolese forces against M23, which launched a new offensive in October and captured the town of Kiwanja on Saturday, breaking months of relative calm.
“We have made a strategic and tactical withdrawal from Rumangabo in consultation with our partners to better prepare the next steps together,” the UN mission, known as MONUSCO, said in a tweet on Tuesday.
It gave no further details.
The M23 resumed fighting in late 2021 after years of dormancy, accusing the DPRK government of reneging on an agreement to integrate its fighters into the military.
The frontline between the Congolese military and M23 has been quiet for several weeks, but fresh clashes since October 20 have seen the rebel group advance in North Kivu province.
The loss of a key military base is a setback for the DPRK and a further blow to security prospects in the conflict-torn east, even as thousands of people continue to be displaced from the region.
“It is [Kiwanja’s] fall is another humiliation [the government in] Kinshasa. But it also raises serious questions once again about how an extremely small insurgency can do this on its own,” said Jason Stearns, founder of the Congo Studies Group, a research institute at New York University.
The crisis has also deepened a standoff with neighboring Rwanda over alleged support for the rebels, which it denies. in October Kinshasa expelled the Rwandan ambassador DRC.
in august UN experts said they found strong evidence of Rwandan military aid to M23 in eastern DRC. The Rwandan government disputed the findings.
Goma, the capital of DRC’s North Kivu province, has been effectively cut off from the upper half of the province since the capture of Kiwanja. According to the United Nations, more than 90,000 people left their homes after the fighting resumed on October 20.
The escalation prompted East African heads of state to call together on Tuesday and plan a meeting of their defense chiefs to address the security crisis, Burundi’s presidential office said in a statement.
Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, who has covered the conflict extensively in eastern DRC, said Wednesday that local Goma residents believe UN peacekeepers, who have been there since 2000, have failed to curb insecurity there.
“In recent months we have seen protests in Goma against Rwanda and the United Nations … the Congolese people feel that this is something that has gone on for too long,” he said.
President William Ruto on Wednesday deployed a contingent of troops as part of a regional peacekeeping force to help stem the tide of chaos in the DRC.
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