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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Congo rebels keep hold on towns they pledged to leave

Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo kept a firm grip on Wednesday over towns captured from government forces, despite a pledge to respect a deal brokered by Uganda and withdraw. World powers and regional neighbors are scrambling to contain the latest violence in Congo's volatile east, where political and ethnic rifts and competition for vast mineral resources are again threatening to ignite a regional war.

The mixed messages from Makenga and Runiga could be a sign of divisions within the movement, according to analyst Jason Stearns at the Rift Valley Institute independent think tank. "This is a military movement with a political wing created post facto. … It's undermined internal cohesion," he said. Stearns believes M23 may be coming under external pressure, given the storm of protest from regional powers caused by the rebel capture of Goma. "The future of M23 depends on the diplomatic dance between donors, countries in the region and Kigali," Stearns said.

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