GOMA, Congo (AP) — Congo’s government spokesperson has said that the East African regional force would have to leave the country by Dec. 8 because of a “lack of satisfactory results on the ground” as agreed on during a regional meeting.
Partick Muyaya told journalists on Monday night that the East African Community, or EAC, force must leave the country “because it has not been able to resolve the problem, notably that of the M23.”
The government says the M23 rebel group has, under the watch of the regional force, refused to withdraw from the territories of Masisi, Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, in violation of the Luanda agreement.
Violent clashes between armed groups have intensified in the Masisi and Rutshuru territories, located in North Kivu province since Oct. 1.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, has quoted humanitarian agencies as saying that at least 20 civilians have been killed and more than 30 others wounded.
“There will surely be a meeting of heads of state afterwards, which will have to rule on the inability of the regional force to resolve this issue, and measures will be taken,” Muyaya said.
Congolese President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi had in September said he wanted the U.N. peacekeeping mission to move up the start of the peacekeeping mission’s “accelerated retreat” by a year for failing to rein in conflicts in the country’s east.
He said “it’s time for our country to take its destiny fully in hand.”
Eastern Congo, far from the capital, has long been overrun by dozens of armed groups seeking a share of the region’s gold and other resources. Some have been quietly backed by Congo’s neighbors.
U.N. experts have noted “substantial evidence” that Rwanda is supporting the resurgent M23 rebel group, which Rwanda has denied.