The rebel M23 group in the Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed that there will be a withdrawal from Goma later this week.
The agreement to pull out of the strategic border city came after talks between the DRC’s government and the rebels, brokered by Uganda. However, DRC authorities remain sceptical.
M23 are not completely leaving the city. The group’s commander Brigadier General Sultani Makenga said: “We will leave one M23 company here at the airport.”
On the border between the DRC and Rwanda, Goma is the capital of the eastern North Kivu province, which is rich in mineral resources.
For now, M23 says it is focusing on withdrawing from smaller towns – such as Sake and Masisi – but these initial concessions are being met with doubt.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende said: “Even though the retreat has been announced for a few hours now, our government is waiting to see its effects, because elements of M23, and those who support them, have made us used to decoy tactics and unkept promises.”
An estimated 500,000 people have fled their homes during seven months of fighting between rebels and government troops. The last big war in the DRC a decade ago pulled in six countries.
DR Congo government not convinced by M23 withdrawals