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Relative calm has been restored in the capital Kinshasa after the Democratic Republic of Congo’s military concluded mop-up operations in pursuit of a rogue militia opposed to the country’s peace talks with Tutsi rebels.
On December 30, Congolese troops killed 50 armed youths and captured dozens after the airport, barracks and state television building came under attack.The attack was carried out by supporters of Pastor Paul Joseph Mukungubila – a former presidential candidate – who has railed against negotiating with the once-feared M23 Tutsi rebel group.
On December 12, the Congolese Government led by President Joseph Kabila signed an agreement with the defeated M23 rebel group in Nairobi, Kenya.
Brokered by a number of African countries, the agreement calls for demobilisation of the militia and a renouncing of violence.
In September, M23 rebels began suffering a series of defeats as UN MONUSCO forces – assisting the Congolese military known as FARDC – managed to push the movement further north.
The M23 movement had since April threatened to attack the towns of Goma, Beni and Butembo in North-Kivu province. In July, M23 launched an offensive against Mutaho village in eastern Congo.
The rebel group, emerging in April 2012, seized control of Goma in December last year, but withdrew from the town 10 days later under the pressure of Great Lakes countries for a peaceful solution. They were eventually routed in November 2013.
The UN had sought to remove the rebel presence from the border region and thereby eliminate the threat they posed to the Rwandan government, which had carried out cross-border raids in previous years.
Mukungubila had previously accused Rwanda’s government of pressuring Kabila to sign an agreement with the M23 rebels.