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article imageThe Congolese government regains control of Goma

By Raluca Besliu     Dec 4, 2012 in Politics
The Congolese government has managed to recapture the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but the M23 rebels continue to pose a threat, as they remain in close proximity to the city.
The insurgent group, consisting mainly of former fighters in the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a Tutsi rebel movement , and formed after an unsuccessful attempt to integrate the fighters in Congo’s army in 2009, held control of Goma for 11 days, after seizing it from governmental forces supported by the United Nations (U.N.).
The Congolese government initially refused entirely to engage in negotiations with the rebels and dismised as blackmail their ultimatum demanding the complete demilitarization of Goma. After the city’s fall, Uganda managed to broker a deal between the two parties, with the rebels agreeing to withdraw 20 km north of the city, after President Joseph Kabila promised to listen to their grievances.
However, North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku expressed serious concern over the fact that some M23 detachments are in fact based in Monigi, which is only 3-5 km aways from Goma. The M23 has confirmed that some rebels are based in Monigi, but claimed that their presence there is motivated by the fact that they are waiting to join government troops and a neutral international force to be stationed together at Goma airport, as was agreed in the recently brokered deal.
On November 26, a letter from U.N. experts emphasized that the M23 benefited from direct Rwandan Defense Forces’ (RDF) support in the fight, according to former RDF officers, Congolese FARDC officers and local leaders, and that around 1,000 RDF troops have been fighting alongside and assisting the M23.
This letter came shortly after the Security Council adopted on November 20 a resolution condemning the M23 rebels’ action and the external support given to the insurgent group and expressed its intention to adopt sanctions against the M23 leadership and those providing it with external support.
Uganda and Rwanda have strongly denied the U.N. accusations of supporting the insurgency movement. Nevertheless, the two countries are currently facing the consequences of the UN declarations. The United Kingdom, the United States and the Netherlands have already withheld aid to Rwanda, over its alleged backing of the rebels in its neighbouring country.
In regards to Uganda, many donors have cut all aid, not only because of its possible intervention in the DRC, but also because of a massive public corruption scandal.
There are many reasons to believe that the two countries would be involved in the DRC conflict. One of the key one is the fact that North Kivu is an extremely valuable province from an economic standpoint, due to its oil reserves, gold, tin, tungsten and coltan-a metal used to make mobile phones, for which both Rwanda and Uganda have fought in the past. Rwanda has twice invaded the DRC in the last two decades, even igniting in 1998 a conflict known as "Africa's Great War," in which several countries were involved. The Rwandan government justified this latter intervention by emphasizing that it had to react to hostile Rwandan Hutu fighters who had fled to Congo after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Similarly, in the recent past, Uganda and Congo have fought over regulating border oil exploitation and resulted in the signing of the 2007 Ngurdoto Accords.
According to OCHA, the current conflict between the Congolese government and the M23 rebels has displaced nearly 250,000 people since April, while around 57,000 people have fled to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda since the beginning of 2012.
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