"There was nobody in the summit (from M23), so it doesn't really concern us," M23 rebel spokesperson says of truce deal signed by the African neighbours in Angola.

The rebels recently seized large portions of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of Nord-Kivu province.
The rebels recently seized large portions of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of Nord-Kivu province. (Reuters Archive)

The M23 rebel group has said that it was "not really concerned" by the ceasefire announced in Luanda and called for a "direct dialogue" with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.

"M23 has seen the document on social media... There was nobody in the summit (from M23), so it doesn't really concern us," Lawrence Kanyuka, a political spokesperson for the M23 (March 23) movement, told AFP news agency on Thursday.

"Normally, when there is a ceasefire, it is between the two warring sides," he added.

DRC's President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwanda's Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta attended a mini-summit in the Angolan capital on Wednesday.

M23 rebels had been dormant for years but took up arms again late last year and have been seen from the start by Kinshasa as actively supported by Rwanda, which denies the charges.

The rebels recently seized large portions of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province.

READ MORE: Rwandan troops kill 'soldier' on DRC border amid heightened tensions

M23 rebels have waged several offensives in eastern DRC this year, their first major come-back since 2012, prompting clashes with the army that have displaced thousands of civilians since March.
M23 rebels have waged several offensives in eastern DRC this year, their first major come-back since 2012, prompting clashes with the army that have displaced thousands of civilians since March. (TRTWorld)

'We are defending ourselves'

The Luanda mini-summit concluded with a deal on the cessation of hostilities in eastern DRC from Friday evening, followed by the withdrawal of M23 rebels from "occupied zones" and their "withdrawal to their initial positions".

If the rebels refuse, the east African regional force being deployed in Goma "will use force" to push them out, the deal said.

Kanyuka said the rebels declared a "unilateral ceasefire" in April and believed it was still in force.

"If tomorrow at 6:00 pm, or in the morning, the government doesn't attack us, we will still be there," he said.

Otherwise, "we are defending ourselves," he said.

"We are always ready for a direct dialogue with the Congolese government to resolve the root causes of conflicts," he added.

The government in Kinshasa has refused to engage with the M23 group, which it calls a "terrorist movement", as long as it occupies territory in DRC.

READ MORE: Kenya, Rwanda ask M23 rebels to vacate eastern DRC

Source: AFP