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Temporary truce reached in eastern DRC where M23 rebels hold sway

A 72-hour ceasefire has been agreed to by the parties involved in the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] and is backed by both the DRC and Rwanda, the White House said.

“The US Government will use its intelligence and diplomatic resources to monitor the activities by armed forces and non-state armed groups during the ceasefire,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on Monday.

Armed forces and non-state armed groups stopped fighting to allow for the withdrawal of forces occupying Mushaki and the RP1030 road, beginning on Monday at noon Central Africa Standard Time (1000 GMT), Watson said in a statement.

The United States has previously urged both the DRC and Rwanda to de-escalate tensions amid a worsening humanitarian crisis along the border between the two countries.

DRC accuses Rwanda of backing a rebel group known as the M23, which made a major comeback last year. Rwanda rejects the allegation.

A ceasefire deal brokered in November last year has reportedly been breached by the M23, according to analysts. The M23 denies this.

Ceasefire doesn’t concern M23

A spokesperson for M23, Willy Ngoma, said the 72-hour ceasefire did not concern the M23 and that it was just to avoid escalation between DRC and Rwanda.

“We have always respected the ceasefire,” he told Reuters news agency.

The UN mission in DRC voiced concern on Monday about the escalating risk of “direct military confrontation” between DRC and Rwanda.

In recent weeks, the situation in DRC’s North Kivu province on the border with Rwanda has “further deteriorated,” United Nations envoy Bintou Keita told the Security Council.

“Regional tensions between the DRC and Rwanda have further escalated, heightening the risk of a direct military confrontation that could also draw in Burundi,” she said.

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