The M23 rebels have just taken control of a new town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and remained on the offensive Tuesday, a day that should have marked the start of the withdrawal from their positions, local sources said.
The M23 must leave by March 30 to a revised timeline adopted by East African leaders on February 17.
The three-stage process was supposed to begin on February 28.
The rebels are making progress in Masisi and maintaining their positions in Rutshuru, areas to the north and west of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, despite this endless demand.
After recently seizing Mushaki and briefly occupying the mining town of Rubaya, they captured Mweso on Monday, about 100 km north of Goma. A security source reported that fighting persisted on Tuesday about 30 km west of Goma.
The last accessible route connecting Goma to the rest of North Kivu is also partially blocked by the M23.
The rebels have now cut off three of the four roads that supply this city of more than a million people.
Rains caused the fourth, which led to South Kivu, to collapse in late 2022.
A portion of the army and the populace were able to flee when the M23 captured Goma in 2012 thanks to this road, which borders Lake Kivu and leads to Bukavu, a hundred kilometres to the south.
Thousands of people now reside in the areas that the rebellion has taken control of.
Similar to how Mweso, a town of more than 30,000 people, is "entirely occupied by the M23" according to Alphonse Habimana, the town's civil society.
Fighting in and around the town pitted the M23 on one side against the Congolese army and armed groups on the other up until Monday afternoon.
APCLS, the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo, spokeswoman Héritier Ndangendange confirmed their defeat while claiming to be "around" Mweso.
Despite the presence of the rebels, residents who had fled on Monday "began to return to their homes on Tuesday," according to Habimana.
After nearly ten years of inactivity, the primarily Tutsi M23 rebellion started using weapons in late 2021.
Although Kigali denies it, Kinshasa has claimed that Rwanda is supporting it, and this claim has been confirmed by U.N. experts.
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