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Days after shooting down UN helicopter, DR Congo rebel group, M23 declares ceasefire

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DR Congo revolutionary group, March 23 Movement (M23) has declared a ceasefire after several days of clashes with the army in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, its spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

The rebel group, which is based in eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said it was seeking dialogue with the government and that it had withdrawn its troops from the combat zone in order to avoid new confrontations with the Congolese army.

The truce comes days after the group was linked with an attack on a United Nations (UN) helicopter carrying eight peacekeepers and UN observers on Tuesday which was shot down in Congo, leaving no survivors. However, the group’s spokesman, Will Ngoma on Wednesday denied the claim and accused Congo’s army of firing on the helicopter.

Reuters reported that heavy fighting broke out on Monday after the M23 attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns, causing thousands of people to flee into Uganda.

The M23 seized large swathes of territory during an insurrection in 2012 and 2013, before its fighters were driven out by Congolese and United Nations forces. They have since returned from neighbouring countries to stage attacks.

This is not the first time one of the parties would be declaring a ceasefire. In late 2012 Congolese troops, along with UN troops, retook control of Goma after the group had displaced a large number of people and took control of Goma. M23 announced a ceasefire, saying it wanted to resume peace talks.

There have been regional efforts in recent years to have the M23 demobilized, but its leaders have complained about the slow implementation of a peace accord.

Metro

Somali forces, local vigilantes, recapture strategic town from Al-Shabaab terrorists

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The Somali National Army (SNA), alongside local vigilantes popularly called Mo’awisley, on Monday, recaptured the strategic city of Adan Yabaal from the al-Shabaab terrorist group, the military said in a bulletin on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the town located near the border between Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions that comprise Hirshabelle State, which is about 220 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu, is one of the five federal member states of the Federal Government of Somalia, and had been a strategic location held by the al-Qaeda-sponsored extremist group.

The SNA said in the bulletin that it met no resistance from the al-Shabaab fighters who left the town without posing resistance on getting information about the approach of the federal troops.

Al-Shabaab have lost most of the towns and settlements in Hirshabelle State, both Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, after the SNA and Mo’awisley vigilantes waged offensive wars.

“Mo’awisley vigilantes, who are mainly composed of nomadic herders, took up arms and rebelled against the jihadists’ confiscation of their livestock and illegal tax collection known as zakawaat.

“Over the last couple of weeks, the government forces and the vigilantes have been gradually inching towards the town which they seized on Monday. The town had been under the full control of al-Shabaab for over a decade,” the bulletin said.

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Tanzania President, Samia Hassan, cancels country’s Independence Day celebrations: Here’s why

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Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has cancelled the country’s Independence Day celebrations which was scheduled for Friday, December 9, and has rather directed that the funds that would have been sunk into the celebration should be used to build dormitories for children with special needs.

The organisers of Tanzania’s 61st Independence Day celebrations had presented a budget of $445,000 to the government but the President vehemently opposed the budget and ordered that the money should be used to build dormitories in primary schools around the country.

However, Tanzania’s Minister of State, George Simbachawene, said the money had been disbursed, alluding that the East African country will celebrate Independence Day by having public dialogues on development marked with pomp and state banquets.

This is not the first time Tanzania has cancelled the celebrations.

In 2015, late President John Magufuli cancelled the celebrations and diverted funds towards the building of a road in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

In 2020, he also cancelled the celebrations and directed that the budget earmarked for it should be used to buy medical facilities.

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