M23 rebels depart Uganda, return to Congo

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M-23 rebels board a UN plane

Uganda has handed over former M-23 combatants for immediate voluntary repatriation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The M23 movement, a mainly ethnic Tutsi rebel group, began an uprising in May 2012 in the Kivu region but was eventually defeated by government forces at the end of 2013.

The over 60 combatants departed Uganda through Entebbe international airport on Tuesday morning and returned home after more than five years of exile.

Uganda’s Ambassador for International Conference for the Great Lakes Region, Robert Masolo, handed over the rebels to Congo ambassador to Uganda, Jean Pierre Massala.

Massala noted that 200 more ex-combatants are still in Bihanga camp in Ibanda District in Western Uganda.

They are part of the over 1,000 M23 fighters who fled into Uganda in 2012 after being defeated by a joint force of the UN and FARDC.

They have voluntarily returned home in response to over 600 Congolese rebels who last month surrendered their weapons in a sign of support for new President Felix Tshisekedi.

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