GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo
Rebels in eastern Congo yesterday rejected regional calls to withdraw from the city of Goma and threatened to press an advance until President Joseph Kabila agrees to peace talks.
The M23 rebels, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, said on Nov. 21 they would “liberate” all the vast central African country after seizing the provincial capital Goma. “We’ll stay in Goma waiting for negotiations,” Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga, head of the M23 rebel movement’s political arm, told Reuters.
“They’re going to attack us and we’re going to defend ourselves and keep on advancing.”
Runiga said he did not think Kabila’s offer to look into their grievances was serious. “I’m not confident, because I’ve already waited for three months in Kampala for talks,” he said.
M23 wanted to ensure the safety of civilians and the return of aid groups that fled Goma during its capture, he added.
Foreign ministers from the Great Lakes region on Nov. 21 ordered the rebels to leave Goma and halt their advance through a region mined for gold, tin, and coltan. Runiga said Uganda and Rwanda had no authority to order the rebels to leave.