April 4, 2013

CONGO WAR: DRC Deploys More Troops Near M23 Bases

Congolese President Joseph Kabila
Congolese President Joseph Kabila

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has deployed more forces in the eastern part of the country amidst protests from the M23 rebels who say the deployment is near their territory.

The M23 rebels say the government has moved in more forces from the areas of Bukavu and Minova and piled them near their territory in Rutshuru area where the rebels pitched camp after leaving Goma city in November last year.

The civilian rebel leader Bertrand Bisiimwa told URN on phone from Bunagana that the M23 are disappointed with the way the Kinshasa government is trying to seek a solution to the problems. The two sides have been holding talks in the Ugandan capital Kampala aimed at ending the one-year long conflict.  But Bisiimwa says recent remarks by Lambert Mende, the Congolese government spokesperson telling the rebels that they should cease to exist is a clear indication that the Kabila government is not committed to peace.

Bisiimwa further revealed that the rebels have through their intelligence learnt that the Congolese government plans to attack their bases yet they had earlier on agreed to have a cease fire.
He says the rebels are also ready to defend themselves from an attack despite being committed to peace.

Jean Claude Nzamuye, a colonel in the M23 rebel ranks, says that they are determined to repel any attack by the Congolese government on their bases.

The move by the Congolese government to deploy more forces near the rebel-held territory comes shortly after the United Nations Security Council voted to deploy a counter offensive against rebel groups in the resource-rich DRC.

On March 28 2013, the Security Council approved a force of more than 2,500 troops to operate in DRC and also neutralize and disarm all armed groups.

Surveillance drones will be used to monitor the DR Congo’s borders with neighbours accused of backing the rebels. Rwanda and Uganda have been accused of backing M23 rebels, a claim both Kampala and Kigali officials dismiss.

The resolution, sponsored by France, US and Togo, would give the brigade a mandate to ensure that armed groups cannot seriously threaten government authority and the security of civilians. UN peacekeepers were unable to protect civilians from M23 rebels, whose movement began in April 2012 when hundreds of troops defected from the Congolese armed forces.

The resolution strongly condemns the continued presence of the M23 in the immediate vicinity of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province and its attempts to establish a parallel administration in North Kivu. The rebels overran Goma and controlled it briefly before withdrawing in November last year under pressure from regional powers.

The M23 rebels say the UN intervention could worsen the situation in the DRC saying that halting their advance after capturing Goma last year was a clear signal that what they want is peace.

The rebels say that the  deployment of troops and drones in Congo is just aimed at bringing more suffering to the people of Congo and destroying the existing hard earned peace in some areas in the name of attacking and disarming rebels.

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