North-Kivu: Nyanzale under M23/RDF control

On Tuesday, March 5, 2024, a development unfolded in the Bwito chiefdom, located in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). M23 rebels, reportedly supported by the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF), initiated a movement from Ngoroba towards the locality of Kashalira. This strategic maneuver aimed at severing the Kibirizi-Nyanzale route, a vital artery that, as of this reporting, remains under the control of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). The hostilities began at dawn on Monday, marking a tense start to the week.

The situation in Kishishe on the afternoon of the same day was marked by a significant shift. After a morning of relative calm, the Congolese army (FARDC) conducted a bombardment on rebel positions. Meanwhile, intense clashes resumed in the city of Nyanzale, specifically in the surrounding hills, extending into the early evening. Notable among these were the skirmishes on the hills of Mushweshwe, as reported by eyewitnesses.

These clashes culminated in the M23 and RDF forces capturing a strategic military position of the FARDC located in Majengo, a critical neighborhood of Nyanzale. This gain, occurring in the evening, was accompanied by a massive exodus of civilian populations, particularly noted in Kibirizi.

Parallel to the military developments, a significant legal decision was made by the Constitutional Court. The Court authorized the national and provincial representatives from Rutshuru and Masisi, elected in 2018, to continue their mandates into the new legislature. This extraordinary decision was made in response to the challenges of conducting elections in these regions for the year 2023, attributed to ongoing conflicts and the occupation by the M23 in collaboration with RDF forces.