The deadline set by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government for all M23 rebel forces to withdraw from the area of Kibumba expires today.
M23 rebels have waged an ongoing insurgency in the DRC’s eastern provinces bordering Rwanda, killing hundreds of civilians and displacing tens of thousands more. Rwanda’s alleged support for the rebels due to ethnic sympathies has exacerbated the DRC’s struggle to crush M23. UN peacekeepers withdrew from the region in August and were replaced with troops from the East African Community (EAC).
The EAC’s efforts at stabilizing the region proved somewhat successful. M23 agreed to withdraw from Kibumba and other towns, although the DRC says it only did so to reinforce its positions elsewhere. The DRC also alleges that M23 forces are still present in Kibumba — while soldiers were required to withdraw by December 23, the technical deadline for all M23-related personnel expires today.
M23’s withdrawal from Kibumba is likely to do little for regional stability. Instead, M23 will likely reposition its forces elsewhere, continuing its violent campaign of peeling away territory from the DRC. Further, while the EAC proved slightly more successful than the UN at peacekeeping, its efforts will be undermined by likely continued Rwandan aid for the group.
Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.