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Rebels in eastern DRC still hold strategic positions

Members of the Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces   -  
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Rebels in eastern DRC were still holding strategic positions on Thursday, the day M23 militants were supposed to leave under a regional peace initiative.

The withdrawal of M23 rebels is now going to take place this Friday, according to the commander of the EAC force.

"From Friday, Ugandan soldiers from the East African regional force will enter Bunagana and deploy to Kiwanja and this is part of the schedule that has been decided..."We have agreed that their first mission is to ensure the security of our population. And we ask all humanitarian organisations to be able to deploy in all areas to help this population", said General Jeff Nyagah, EAC Regional Force Commander.

Since June last year that the town of Bunagana, a commercial crossroads on the Ugandan border, has been under rebel control.

"Customs are still closed and famine is getting much worse. Nothing works like it used to here. It's good that these Ugandan soldiers are coming in, but we would like the Congolese government and the M23 to hold talks so that a solution can be found", said Jean Muhire, a resident in Bunagana

March 30th was supposed to mark the end of the withdrawal of "all armed groups", according to a timetable adopted in mid-February by the EAC.

The M23 has announced its withdrawal from certain localities, but these announcements have been described as a "diversion" by the Congolese army.

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