|Thousands of terrified Congolese flee to Uganda||
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Uganda says more than 4,000 Congolese refugees crossed into Uganda on Thursday night to escape renewed violence in eastern Congo.
Lucy Beck of UNHCR said Friday that the refugees were fleeing battles between armed factions of M23, a rebel group that opposes the government of Congolese President Joseph Kabila. Beck said the agency is bracing itself for a greater influx in coming weeks, although there were no reported arrivals Friday.
The refugees were stranded at the Bunagana border post and had refused to relocate to transit centers, apparently to keep monitoring for signs of peace, she said.
M23 is said to be undergoing a power struggle, with the military wing reportedly taking over authority previously held by a cleric named Jean- Marie Runiga.
Meanwhile, the president of the M23 rebel group in eastern Congo has been dismissed by the group's military leader over accusations that he is supporting Bosco Ntaganda, a wanted war criminal, said a spokesperson of the M23 Thursday.
"Jean-Marie Runiga gave Bosco Ntaganda financial support to recruit military personnel. He has also been compromising the peace process in order to protect Ntaganda. We say it is not acceptable and General Sultani Makenga dismissed him yesterday," said Bertrand Bisimwa, an M23 spokesman.
The move has split the M23 as a new group has been formed by those who still support Runiga, including Gen. Baudoin Ngaruye, the second-ranked military leader of the group.
"President Runiga was not dismissed, it was a unilateral decision made by Makenga," said Col. Seraphin Mirindi, who has been appointed spokesperson of the new M23 faction. "The army supports President Runiga and we do not want to follow Makenga who is conniving with the government in Kinshasa to destabilize us."
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