Eastern DRC: Week overviewNews, Top news
After nearly a week of rising conflict in Eastern DRC, M23 has publically revealed its long-term mission: to move further towards Kinshasa, ‘liberate’ the Congo and overthrow Joseph Kabila. While the long awaited UN Security Council resolution was ignored by the rebels so was the call for withdrawal from Presidents Kabila, Museveni and Kagame. On this seventh day of the turmoil, Jambonews re-captures the series of unfortunate events that have taken place in and outside the region.
In the uncontested UNSC resolution 2076, the UN Security Council, which now ironically features Rwanda as a non-permanent member, asks the Secretarty-General to report on the alleged support of M23 before ‘taking further appropriate measures’. The Council considers the possibility of having to ‘take sanctions against external supporters as well as the leadership of the M23.’ Although there’s no specific mentioning ofRwandaandUganda, countries which according to the report of the UN Group of Experts are supporting the rebel movement, the Security Council ‘demands that any and all outside support cease immediately’.
Contrary to the diplomatic articulations of the UN, the Congolese representative Seraphin Ngwej condemnedRwandaand said that there’s growing evidence regarding its involvement in the conflict. He went on to ask for a dialogue between the DRC andRwandaand demanding the Security Council to facilitate it.
As the uprising continues, UN personnel and other officials are being safely evacuated from the region.
It seems that with the rapid rate of events, the Rwandan government has changed from its former statements that ‘it has no part in the Congolese conflict’ and is now calling for ‘a political dialogue’ with the DRC.
On Tuesday evening inKampala, the Congolese president Kabila met with the Rwandan president Kagame at a meeting that evolved around theGreat Lakesregion and also featured Ugandan president Museveni. Before heading for this encounter, Kabila was reported saying he would use this opportunity to show evidence thatRwandaandUgandaare responsible for the conflict inNorth Kivu.
However, Ugandan President’s position changed from opposing party to mediator. As a result; the three Presidents, on 21st of November 2012, jointly demanded M23 to withdraw from Goma. While M23’s demands were acknowledged, their objective to overthrow current Kabila’s regime was said to be “illegitimate”.
Surprisingly, President Kabila seems to take the UN group of experts report (Report contested by both Rwandaand Uganda) seriously. On the 22nd of November, Congolese commander in chief decided to temporally suspend the country’s army chief, General Gabriel Amisi, over allegations of “smuggling arms”. The accusations were based on a UN report released this week which alleges that General Amisi “overseeing a network that provides arms and ammunitions to armed groups and elephant poachers.”
Seizing Goma and Sake
On Sunday the 18th of November, there seemed to be hope for an alleged diplomatic agreement between the UN and the Rwandan government. Through this agreement, the danger had been flattened: M23 would not invade Goma and the FARDC would refrain from further attacks. The UN’s fear that the 600.000 inhabitants of Goma would succumb to a humanitarian crisis faded to the background.
However, on Monday, the region was once again overpowered by fear as the rebels moved further towards the city and threatened to use violence against the FARDC because the Congolese army refused their ultimatum of engaging in peace negotiations and withdrawing its troops from the city area. As negotiations continue to fail, a great number of citizens of Goma and the surroundings continue to flee the approaching turmoil.
Despite earlier allegations that the M23 troops were moving closer to Goma but did not have the intention to occupy it, it became clear on Monday evening that the city was taken over by none other than M23. After first seizing theairportofGomaand two border regions withRwanda, the movement’s control has now expanded to Sake. As M23 gains territory and power, the Congolese army weakens further. Congolese soldiers and police are said to have fled from the region and those who stayed have surrendered and joined the rebel movement, reported Aljzeera.
Outside the region, several donor countries such as The Netherlands, Germany and the UK have continued to suspend their aid to the Rwandan government due to the allegations made by the UN Group of Expert. The UK’s foreign secretary William Hague and the international development secretary Justine Greening said to judge the evidence regarding Rwanda’s involvement in the conflict ‘credible and compelling’. ‘We will be studying the implications of this report in full, but these allegations will necessarily be a key factor in future aid decisions to the Government of Rwanda.’
M23 is said to have committed severe human rights violations since their creation in April 2012. ‘The M23-rebels are leaving a trail of unimaginable cruelties behind in the Eastern Congo’, according to Anneke van Woudenberg, Human Rights Watch (HRW) expert on Africa. HRW says it has gathered new testimonies on the war crimes of M23 such as extra-judicial executions, mass rape and forced recruitment of children.