Ugandan Troops take over DRC’s Kiwanja Town as M23 Rebels withdraw

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Ugandan troops have taken over the strategic town of Kiwanja in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as part of the East African Community (EAC) peacekeeping mission.

This comes after the withdrawal of M23 rebels, who had captured Kiwanja in October 2022, driving out government soldiers from their largest base in the area.

The M23 rebels, who launched a war against the DRC government in March 2023, citing corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination, have been occupying vast areas in the eastern parts of the country for the past two years.

The capture of Kiwanja had effectively cut off the direct route to the provincial capital, Goma, from the north of the province.

Uganda deployed its troops as part of the EAC intervention to support a ceasefire and restore peace and stability in eastern DRC.

The soldiers were tasked with supervising the withdrawal of the rebel group and occupying positions handed over by the M23 to the East African force as a neutral force.

The spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) confirmed the deployment, stating, “Uganda contingent under the EACRF deploys to Kiwanja/Rushuru as M23 hands over Kiwanja in eastern DRC.”

This is the second phase of deployment after Bunagana on April 2, 2023.

Captain Hassan Ahmad Kato, the spokesperson for the Ugandan Contingent, confirmed the deployment but could not provide further details.

Meanwhile, M23 rebels have withdrawn from the southern front of Masisi territory and handed over Mweso town to Burundian troops, but they are yet to release a statement confirming their withdrawal from Kiwanja.