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Military Spokesperson among Missing M23 Combatants

Sources indicate that he left Kampala two weeks ago, destined for Bihanga military training school in Ibanda district to join other ex-combatants of the M23. However, there is no record of his presence at Bihanga.
Lt.Col. Vianney Kazarama
Lt Colonel Vianney Kazarama, one of the senior military leaders of the M23 combatants is reportedly missing.

Kazarama, the spokesperson of the M23 Military wing, has been living in Kampala alongside the group's commander Brigadier General Sultan Makenga since the defeat of the M23 rebels in 2013.

Sources indicate that he left Kampala two weeks ago, destined for Bihanga military training school in Ibanda district to join other ex-combatants of the M23. However, there is no record of his presence at Bihanga. The ex-combatants at Bihanga equally have conflicting accounts of his whereabouts.

While a good number of ex-combatants told our reporter that Kazarama disappeared, Lieutenant Innocent Rukara, the M23 commander at Bihanga claims that the military spokesperson is in Kampala. He however declined to divulge more details about his alleged disappearance.

According to a top officer of the Uganda People's Defence Forces-UPDF at Bihanga, the military spokesperson is among those who are not accounted for.

In December 2013, a total of 1,374 ex-combatants of M23 were transferred from Kavera in Kasese district to Bihanga in Ibanda.  However, as of February 8, 2017, the UPDF could only account for about three hundred of them.

Of these, 19 ex- combatants are admitted at Bombo Military Hospital, while nine are confirmed dead since 2013. Seven of the ex-fighters were said to be on official duty and seven others on leave to see relatives.

Who is M23?

M23 rebel movement is named after a peace agreement they signed with the Congolese government on March 23, 2009 when they were fighting as part of National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebel group led by Col Bosco Ntaganda. Many of CNDP fighters were integrated into the DRC government, the FARDC.

The rebels belong to the minority Tutsi ethnic group with close ties to the Tutsi in neighboring Rwanda and Burundi.

CNDP rebellion began in April 2012 when, as government soldiers, they mutinied.

At its peak, M23 controlled North Kivu's capital Goma but was driven out by the UN and Congolese forces. Since then, the fighters have been scattered in camps in neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda awaiting amnesty.

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