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Separately, the M23 leadership, apparently buoyed by the Friday success of over-running Bunagana, asked for talks announcing that they would hold fire if Kinshasa responded favourably.
Congolese Defence chief Tambo in a statement said Ntaganda and 13 of his deputies had been dismissed from the army and “the defence and security services are ordered to urgently re-launch an operation to find and arrest (them)”, Al Jazeera reported yesterday.
The Great Lakes’ grouping has been scrambled into action after the resurgent M23 rebel group, reportedly under the overall command of Sultan Makenga, but comprising mainly former National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) insurgent fighters, last Friday wrested Bunagana, a town vital for custom revenue collection and immigration control, from Kinshasa government’s control.
DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s government, the UN and humanitarian agencies have accused Rwanda of fomenting trouble by supporting the M23 rebels, allegations Kigali has consistently denied.
Some 646 armed Congolese soldiers, outgunned during the Friday onslaught, fled to Kisoro District, opening the floodgate to thousands of their defenceless civilian counterparts to rush for sanctuary in frontier districts to Uganda’s west.
The soldiers have been disarmed and relocated to Kasese town ahead of an expected visit and address to them today by their country’s ambassador to Kampala, Mr Charles Okoto.
This newspaper has been told Mr Oryem-Okello and Mr Okoto met on Saturday to find a mutually agreeable mechanism of repatriating the stranded Congolese soldiers.
“We do not want them (the soldiers) here longer and later it is misunderstood,” said the acting Foreign Affairs minister. “The faster we repatriate them, the better.”
Representatives of the Congolese embassy were not available when this newspaper sought to speak to them on the volatile situation in eastern part of their country, made worse by reports intimated by Ugandan intelligence officials that a new rebel group had emerged in DRC’s Ituri province.