M23 deny split as sacked Runiga joins forces with Gen Ntaganda

By Henry D Gombya in London and Diana S Katabarwa in Kampala

Bishop Runiga (with folded arms) looks to have too much on his mind on Tuesday as he joined Gen Baudouin (left) and Gen Makenga (right) at late Major Anicet's funeral Tuesday.

Sacked M23 leader Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga looked to have been having too much on his mind on Tuesday as he sat between Gen Baudouin (left) and Gen Makenga (right) at late Major Anicet’s funeral Tuesday.

The Chief of Communications in the M23 Movement that is fighting the government of President Joseph Kabila has denied reports of a split in the Movement after the sudden sacking of Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero as M23 president.

Speaking on the phone from Kampala, M Bertrand Bisiimwa confirmed a message we had received early this morning (Thursday) that the M23 High Command had relieved Bishop Runiga of his duties after finding him guilty of high treason, embezzlement of the movement’s funds, divisions, ethnic hatred, political immaturity and the inability to ‘define and provide general policy guidance to the different structures of the Movement’.

Announcing their decision in a communique sent to us, the M23 Movement said their military high command had met on Wednesday and passed Resolution No.013/HCM/M23/2013 in which Bishop Runiga acknowledged the charges against him. The High Command then said that given the need and urgency required in such circumstances, it had decided to relieve Runiga of his duties as Chairman on the Movement with immediate effect. It then went on to appoint the current Vice President, Brigadier General Sultani Makenga as the interim president ‘until the appointment by Congress of a new president’. The communique did not say when this would be.

Sources close to the M23 Movement told The London Evening Post that Bishop Runiga has since fled Bunagana, the current headquarters of the M23 and joined up with Gen Bosco Ntaganda in Kabuhanga, Kubumba. In his conversation with this newspaper, M Bisiimwa said he was not surprised that Bishop Runiga had now joined up with Ntaganda, a man the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued a warrant of arrest for conscripting children in his army and crimes against humanity.

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