Ceasefire agreed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo conflict, US says

WASHINGTON/KINSHASA (Reuters) -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 on Monday.

“The U.S. 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.

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.

Rwanda’s government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The spokesperson for Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said she had no reaction.

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.

Congo accuses Rwanda of backing a rebel group known as the M23, which made a major comeback last year. Rwanda denies this.

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

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

“We have always respected the cease-fire,” he told Reuters.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas and Sonia Rolley in Kinshsa; Editing by Susan Heavey and Sandra Maler)