M23 agrees to orderly withdrawal – EAC

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Central African rebel group M23 has, according to the East African Community (EAC), agreed to an orderly withdrawal and respect “a strict ceasefire” in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) province North Kivu.

A statement by the regional block has it M23 leaders further agreed to respect and co-operate with the East African Regional Force (EARF) now taking control of areas vacated by the M23. This is in adherence to a decision of an EAC Chiefs of General Staff extraordinary meeting in Bujumbura in November.

M23 withdrawal will continue and be verified by ESRF and the ICGLR (International Conference on the Great Lakes Region). This will ensure the “safety and swift return home of displaced citizens and refugees”.

At a Mombasa County, Kenya, meeting Uhuru Kenyatta, former Kenyan president, heard M23 leadership asked to provide assistance to endure citizen safety and rights in eastern DRC. He was also asked to assure all “local and foreign armed groups” in the eastern part of the sprawling central African country lay down arms, cease fighting and/or attacks and “seek resolution of the conflict by peaceful means”.

The meeting noted the situation in North Kivu – the most volatile in eastern DRC – achieved progress with increased stability and security over the past four weeks. Many previously displaced people had begun returning.

The Nairobi Process on peace and stability in Eastern DRC is a regional initiative intended to end suffering and displacement “in the area for a considerable period”.