White House sees ceasefire holding in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo -official

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A 72-hour ceasefire agreed to by the parties involved in the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is holding so far, according to a White House official familiar with the developments.

The White House had said on Monday that the groups agreed to stop fighting to allow for the withdrawal of forces occupying Mushaki and the RP1030 road, for a 72-hour period from Monday at noon Central Africa Standard Time (1000 GMT).

“We can confirm that armed forces and non-state armed groups have ceased fighting,” since the agreed time, the official said on Tuesday night in Washington. “The United States continues to support efforts to de-escalate tensions and protect civilians in eastern DRC.”

The United States has worked to push the DRC and neighboring 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 comeback last year. Rwanda denies this. The White House had said the ceasefire deal was backed by both the DRC and Rwanda, which did not comment.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)