Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say the fearful M23 rebel group has said it is ending its long 20-month insurgency in the country with immediate effect.
Local reporters quoted some top officials of the rebel group as saying that they will seek a final and lasting political solution to the crisis and called for total disarmament.
“To this end, the chief of general staff and the commanders of all major units are requested to prepare troops for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration on terms to be agreed with the government of Congo,” M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa said in a statement.
The United Nations special force in the region has welcomed the move by the rebels to surrender and urged for final political solution.
Brazilian general, Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz commander of the UN force congratulated the Congolese army and urged for lasting peace.
I think that it’s one very important moment to the Congolese armed forces and to the Congolese people, to bring peace to this region, to have control again on this part of the territory,” he told AFP.
The M23 was launched in April 2012 by ex-rebels who had been integrated into the regular army after an earlier peace deal but mutinied again, claiming that Kinshasa was failing to keep its side of the bargain.
This surrender of the rebels come as Congolese and UN backed forces stepped up their offensive against the rebels in recent weeks.
Local reporters also say this victory for the Congolese army marks the clearest and most significant military victory for the Congolese government since the 1963 crushing of a separatist rebellion in the southern province of Katanga.
Analysts say better preparation by the Congolese troops and the unprecedented offensive mandate granted to the special UN brigade tipped the military balance.
The heavily armed 3,000-strong UN intervention brigade joined 17,000 peacekeepers already deployed with a mission to stamp out rebel groups accused of human rights abuses including rape, murder and recruiting child soldiers.
The March 23 Movement often abbreviated as M23 was operating in the province of North Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its insurgencies have led to the displacement of large numbers of people in the country.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News
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