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Conflict

Goma residents fear renewed conflict

DR Congo M23 rebels have pulled out of the key strategic city of Goma, as government troops return. Local residents fear that conflict between the two may flare up again.

M23 rebels, who withdrew from Goma, North Kivu's regional capital, over the weekend remain close to the city, having taken up positions just three kilometers away.

DW What is the situation like in Goma?

Jack Kahorha: The situation is quiet after the rebels left Goma. Life returned to normal, shops were open, and most offices have carried on working today. But schools haven't opened yet because people are still afraid that maybe something may go wrong. The police are already back to Goma, 280 of them have been deployed to Goma for now. On Sunday, which is yesterday, the commander of the police has also invited the police officers that stayed in town during the presence of the rebels to join them and increase security. Meanwhile, it's been announced that the first battalion of the FARLDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) Citizen Army has arrived to secure the town of Goma. But before the rebels left Goma on Saturday, they said in case the government in Kinshasa does not respect the agreement, what was decided at the RSCGR meeting, then they will be ordered to come back. That is still putting people here in a kind of fear that the rebels may come back to Goma, but some authorities have started to come back as it is the case with the mayor of Goma town, who is already back to Goma.

A unit of the M23 rebels is said to be remaining behind and will be part of security at the airport, how easy will it be for rebels to work alongside government and UN troops stationed their?

It seems the two forces used to commit attrocities and each group was accusing another group. So this is the fear for people in Goma to see how those two groups have to come back and work in the town together and people are afraid that this will create a sort of insecurity and nobody will be ready to respond to what will be happening in the town. That's why people are afraid that this was not a good decision that was taken when they said that the two forces have to work together in the same town, since they are in a conflict and none of the forces will accept the responsibility if atrocities are committed in the town.

What about signs of political uncertainty in Goma?

No political authority is present in Goma except the mayor of Goma town and he is the one who is trying to calm people. He wants to build confidence in the authorities again, who are established in the town, and is asking the people to hope that peace is coming. Apart from him, there is no other authority in Goma but it was announced that the governor may come very soon to Goma town to resume his activities. But the M23 thinks that it is not a good time for the governor to come back to town before the negotiations have been achieved. M23 thinks that Goma should not be ruled by any of the rebels, or the government.

Jack Kahorha is a journalist based in Goma.

Interviewer: Isaac Mugabi

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