Sultan Makenga

The M23 rebels are underway to enclosing the strategic town of Butembo in North Kivu where the UPDF and Congolese soldiers have been hunting down the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) fighters.

The insurgents, who are reportedly backed by Rwanda, started the long march to Butembo after capturing the strategic town of Kanyabayonga this past Friday.

On Sunday night, M23 rebels seized Lubero town which boasts about 120,000 residents.

The insurgents told residents of Lubero that they were en-route to Butembo, located about 280kms north of Goma.

The rapid advance of the M23 rebels has left DRC in shock with President Felix Tshisekedi accusing Rwandan armed forces of conducting an open act of aggression against his country.

The rebels now control Bunaganana, Rutshuru, Kichanga, Kirolirwe, Mushake, Rubaya, Kishishe, Kibirizi, Rwindi, Kanyabayonga and Lubero.

It remains unclear how M23 rebels will operate alongside Ugandan and Congolese forces operating in the area under Operation Shuja.

“It appears we are now in a mix,” said a security official operating under Operation Shuja, emphasizing, “DRC, Uganda and Rwanda need to sit down and see how to deal with this potentially explosive situation.”

Uganda and DRC launched Operation Shuja in 2021 to decimate the ADF which was committing atrocities in eastern DRC and western Uganda.

Another source who preferred anonymity to speak freely said “the entry of M23 rebels in the areas of Operation Shujaa will change the dynamics of the war. We may have crossfires if we don’t resolve this situation as soon as possible.”

The M23 rebels appear determined to continue its war with Congolese forces until President Tshisekedi is removed from office.

M23’s General Justin Gaceri was quoted as saying the rebels would “continue our advance to Kinshasa. We will be everywhere. It is a matter of time.”

Tshisekedi last week convened the nation’s Security Council, vowing to deploy all the available resources to protect DRC’s territorial integrity.

However, Congolese forces have failed to stave off the M23’s rapid advance in recent weeks.


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