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Congo Rebels Refuse to Withdraw From Goma

by VOA News November 26, 2012

Congolese rebel group M23 says it will not give up the captured city of Goma, despite a demand from regional leaders to withdraw.

Bertrand Bisimwa, the political spokesman for M23 said Monday the group will stay in Goma because there have been no direct negotiations with Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila.

Kabila met briefly with M23 political leader Jean-Marie Runiga in Uganda's capital over the weekend, but there were no official talks.

​​Regional presidents, including Kabila, have demanded that M23 pull out of Goma by the end of the day Monday.

The rebels seized the eastern city last week and have since taken the town of Sake to the west. The group has said it will topple the Kabila government.

M23 said its military leader, Sultani Makenga, is traveling Monday to Kampala to talk with regional military chiefs.

The United Nations has accused Uganda and Rwanda of giving support to M23, a charge both countries deny.

​​Goma is located on the DRC-Rwandan border. Rwandan President Paul Kagame was absent from a meeting of several central African presidents in Kampala on Saturday.

M23 consists of former rebels who were once integrated into the Congolese army, but deserted early this year, complaining of discrimination and poor treatment.

The DRC government has tried for years with little success to pacify the east, where armed groups compete for control of the region's mineral wealth.

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