M23 rebels flee 'forced repatriation' from Uganda

Over 1,000 fighters had been slated to voluntarily return to their native Democratic Republic of Congo today

M23 rebels flee 'forced repatriation' from Uganda
World Bulletin/News Desk
 Hundreds of fighters from the M23 rebel group are on the run in Uganda following reports they were to be forcibly repatriated to their native Democratic Republic of Congo.

"They told us they ran away because the government in Kinshasa, helped by the Ugandan government, wants to take them by force back home," M23 spokesman Kabasha Amani told The Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

He said over 1,000 fighters at the Bihanga camp in Western Uganda had been slated to voluntarily return home today.

"We do not agree with this repatriation; it has to be voluntary," Amani insisted. "They [M23 fighters] ran away from home seeking asylum. It is their right to return when they want."

The M23 spokesman said there may have been shooting inside the camp this morning after a number of rebels refused to return home.

"There were reports of gun shooting," he told AA.

Asked who was shooting at the rebels, Amani said: "I don't know. It could have been the Ugandan army."

He said they had since sent a letter to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

"We wrote saying we don't agree with this way of forceful repatriation," he told AA.

On Saturday, the rebels also sent a letter – regarding the same issue – to the UNCHR.

A Ugandan army spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the allegations.

It has been exactly one year since M23 rebels and the DRC government signed the Nairobi Agreement, by which the DRC government agreed on the modality of the disarmament, cantonment, demobilization and social reintegration of M23 fighters.

According to the rebel group, however, only around 270 of some 4,000 M23 members in Uganda and the DRC have been given amnesty since the agreement was signed one year ago.

"We are in a process. But this agreement has been slowed down by the government; nothing has been implemented since then," fumed Amani.

According to the Nairobi agreement, M23 has submitted a list of its members being held in prison. The government, for its part, had been supposed to free them under a new amnesty law.

"But until today, there has been no answer about it," said the rebel spokesman. "Instead, these prisoners undergo inhuman, degrading treatment and daily torture."

A spokesman for the DRC government was not immediately available to comment.

M23 was defeated and disarmed by a UN-backed force in 2013 prompting a number of its fighters to flee to Uganda or Rwanda.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Aralık 2014, 14:58