DR Congo rebel group M23 says to lay down arms after defeat by army

The M23 rebel group of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) on Tuesday expressed readiness to lay down arms after a series of military setbacks in recent weeks.

M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa said in a statement that his commanders are being advised to lay down arms in preparation for the reintegration into the army in light of an agreement being reached with the government.

The Central African country’s biggest rebel group abandoned their last positions on the hills bordering Uganda and Rwanda, the military said on Tuesday.

The M23 movement was seriously weakened by an infight in March, when its commander Bosco Ntanganda fled to neighboring Rwanda and was later taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Since 2006, the ICC has issued two arrest warrants against Ntaganda for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the recruitment of child soldiers and rape.

Ntanganda headed a new rebellion of M23 in April 2012, citing the failure of the government to honor a previous agreement, under which Ntanganda supposed himself to be safe from the war crime charges.

The rebel group swept through large swaths in North Kivu and captured Goma on Nov. 20, 2012, only to withdraw 10 days later under the pressure of the 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Several rounds of talks have been held in the Ugandan capital Kampala without any headway. The rival sides resumed hostilities recently with the government force pushing ahead with offensives to get rid of the war-torn country’s top security threat. GNA

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