Demonstration held in DR Congo against M23 rebels

Thousands of people protested on Wednesday in the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu province in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), against the recent offensives by the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23) who took control of the border city of Bunagana a few days ago.

On Wednesday, local civil society and youth movements organised a peaceful demonstration to protest against the fall of the city of Bunagana, an important transit point for cross-border trade between the DRC and Uganda. The city of Bunagana also fell to the M23 rebels in 2012.

Stemming from a former Congolese rebellion, the M23, created in April 2012, quickly gained international notoriety when it occupied the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu, for ten days in November 2012. This occupation followed eight months of intense fighting in Rutshuru territory.

Although the rebels withdrew from Goma after coming under heavy international pressure, they continued to control key strategic sites, such as the border town of Bunagana.

After its defeat by the army in 2013, the M23 signed a peace accord with the government in December 2013, in which it agreed to demobilise its fighters and transform itself into a political party.

However, under the leadership of Commander Sultani Makenga, parts of the group returned to the DRC at the end of 2016, accusing the Kinshasa authorities of not respecting the commitments on the demobilisation of its combatants. DRC authorities have been accusing Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels.

Rwanda has denied the charge and instead accused the Congolese army of allying with Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), active in eastern DRC, whose elements were blamed for the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

Relations between the DRC and Rwanda, which had shown signs of thawing under the current administrations, were now in a diplomatic standoff, provoked and fuelled by the recent offensives of the M23. 

The two neighbouring countries shared complicated and tangled relations since the tragic genocide in 1994, as Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide arrived in eastern DRC. 

However, besides all the tiffs and tit-for-tat, the two countries have also counted on regional mediation and possibly a tete-a-tete between the two presidents in Angola, attempting to bury the hatchet and restore the fragile peace in eastern DRC.  -Xinhua

Show More
Back to top button