Congo News n. 166


EDITORIAL: If we want it, we can do it


a. The ordeal of those displaced by the war

b. The M23 backed by Ugandan and Rwandan armed forces

c. The debate on the so-called Masisi elected Deputies

d. Armed groups

e. The civilian population lives with the greatest unease






EDITORIAL: If we want it, we can do it


An uneasy silence.

In a recent interview, French-Cameroonian journalist Charles Onana maintains that, “in Europe, it is very difficult to talk about the Congolese victims and about the pillaging of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) despite numerous UN reports on these matters.” According to Onana, “the media and European political circles only see the situation through the lens of the FDLR and the Maï-Maï, completely ignoring the true occupational forces. Let’s talk, for example, of how the role of Rwanda and its intrusion into DR Congo is a taboo subject for European institutions and even for some human rights organizations. It is a form of censorship that cannot be justified. It is therefore necessary to break the silence”. According to Onana, “The tragedy experienced by the Congolese people in the east of the country is the result of a deliberate policy of destruction and subjugation, where the western powers, multinationals and mafia groups play a major role. Rwanda and Uganda in particular, countries bordering DR Congo that are considered “the godfathers of the aggression in Congo”, are in the service of western interests”.


The masks disguising a system of exploitation

The forming of the March 23 movement (M23) last May in the eastern DR Congo, a new armed group supported by Rwanda and Uganda militarily and logistically and that is responsible for numerous crimes against humanity, calls for a deeper reflection and forces us to ask about its origins.


If we take into account its composition, the M23 places itself in the wake of previous armed groups, themselves also armed and supported by the Rwandan regime. Tracing the last sixteen years of history in the DR Congo, these groups include the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) created in 2006, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) and its different branches created in 1998, and finally, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) created in 1996. The warlords that commanded these armed groups became generals and colonels in the national army. The heads of the political arms of these rebel movements now find themselves in parliament, in the government and in the territorial administration. Over the years, we have seen the consolidation of a system based on the AFDL-RCD-CNDP-M23 and the illegal exploitation of the DR Congo’s natural resources with its epicentre in Rwanda, but where the results of death and poverty have a negative impact on the DR Congo. It is known by all that this system depends on the support of the Rwandan regime: Kinshasa acts on orders from Kigali, particularly from president Paul Kagame, defence minister James Kabarebe and the minister of foreign affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo.


There is a solution and it is political.

The Congolese people want radical change. But how can this come about? How can they oppose this AFDL-RCD-CNDP-M23 system that holds the power and the weapons? Some propose protests in the street, an uprising by the people, or resorting to arms. The risk is brutal repression by those in power with the people becoming the main victim once again. A possible alternative is to put an end to the support that this system receives from the outside, notably from the Rwandan regime.


It would have to make it impossible for Kigali to continue to head the AFDL-RCD-CNDP-M23 system as it currently does in supporting the M23. Such are the sanctions that the Congolese civil society continues to insist that the UN Security Council and the European Union adopt against the Rwandan regime, while taking care to avoid negative impacts on the Rwandan population. The sanctions could consist of a series of measures such as an embargo on the import of arms and the export of minerals plundered in the Congo and tagged for Rwanda, a suspension of military cooperation, and the issue of international arrest warrants for and the freezing of assets of persons and entities implicated in the conflict and named in the UN reports. It is in weakening the current Rwandan regime that we can put an end to the AFDL-RCD-CNDP-M23 system in the DR Congo. It would be an operation that is swift, without expense and likely, much more efficient than an intervention from a hypothetical “neutral international force”. All that is needed is a minimum degree of political will. At the same time, the UN and the EU should put pressure on Kinshasa, most of all in the domains involved in the country’s democratisation (reform of the electoral commission); the respect for human rights (the Chebeya trial); security (changes in the police and military chains of command, fair wages for soldiers); the struggle against impunity and corruption (reforms in the judicial system); and the mining sector (the fight against exploiting the country’s natural resources). Under these conditions, it is still possible to hope for a peaceful future for the DR Congo.





a. The ordeal of those displaced by the war


In the east of the DRC, camp Kanyarucinya receives people who, before fleeing the March 23 Movement (M23), had already escaped another rebellion in 2008: that of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which threatened to take Goma, the capital of the unstable North Kivu province. Facing their advance, the displaced improvised a camp at Kanyarucinya, located twelve kilometres from Goma.

“We saw the rebels coming and we were afraid, so we came here”, recalls Christophe, aged 17. Today, the high school student returned to the camp of close to 60,000 people, the majority of them women and children. Since July, they had all fled the battles between the army and the M23, formed in Mai by ex-CNDP that were integrated into loyalist forces in 2009.

Before escaping the rise of the M23 and the CNDP, Mburano, aged 55, had fled the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD). “In 2008, I was already at Kanyarucinya. I live here with my wife and my seven children. One of them, I adopted when the CNDP came to our village. He was alone, and in these cases, all children are our children”, the vegetable farmer relates with a visible calm. Mburano lives under one of the 11,100 tents pitched on wooden hoops, intended for five people but where there are often more couples. In this season of torrential rain, the tarps from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were not waterproof enough. “When we sleep, we’re all wet,” laughs Mungu, aged 25, miming water falling into his ears.

Although Mburano wears plastic bottles, many others like Christophe are only in sandals. Despite everything, they manage to survive. Women sell vegetables and men work in neighbouring fields. Such is the case of Mungu, who lost his job as a motorcycle taxi driver. For each day of work, he earns 800 Congolese francs – barely a dollar. A day rate that seems to be the norm, but not by choice.

Low on funds, the World Food Program (WFP) struggles to distribute more rations (flour, beans, oil, salt), high-energy biscuits, and vouchers. The vouchers, amounting to 65 dollars per family, saw a degree of success in mid-September. “The WFP organized a fair and with the coupons, we went to the stalls and could take what we wanted: rice, vegetables…We prefer choosing what we will eat”, comments 26-year-old Jeanine, who feeds her four children and her husband with great difficulty by selling tomatoes and small fish.

25-year-old Annuarite, mother of three, adds with regret: “if we received food, there is no wood charcoal to cook with, no braziers…And the food has to last one month, but what we get is still not enough.” Others hate that the vouchers have caused inflation. For example, they point out that a 25 kg bag of rice, worth 22 dollars on the local market, costs 30 at the fair, an anomaly the WFP is investigating. At present, if standpipes were installed in the camp, access to water is very difficult. Also, the displaced are 17 km from the front line. “We’re scared! We think that the M23 can reach here, they have enough power”, Christophe estimates. Mburano, however, remains hopeful. “If there is peace, I’m going home. Although, the  houses and fields are destroyed, we will have to start life again from zero.”


b. the M23 backed by Ugandan and Rwandan armed forces


According to sources close to the Civil Society of North Kivu, on October 15th and 18th, three battalions of Ugandan and Rwandan forces crossed the border, passing through NKONKWE (in the GISIGARI grouping) and RUNYONYI (in the BWEZA grouping), in the chiefdom of BWISHA. The entry of these battalions had no other objective but to reinforce the M23 and permit it to hasten its advance on the MASIS, WALIKALE, and NYIRAGONGO territories, and the city of GOMA before beginning the 2nd phase, which consisted of going toward the Great North (the BENI-LUBERO zone). The Civil Society of North Kivu has alerted the United Nations to these new threats of destabilisation and asks the United Nations Security Council to adopt sanctions against the governments, those politically responsible, and the RWANDAN and UGANDAN armed forces for their aggression against the Congo under the banner of the M23 as quickly as possible. These sanctions could consist of embargoes against the Ugandan and Rwandan governments, a freeze on accounts, the restriction of travel to other states and the appearance before the ICC of the Rwandan and Ugandan high officials that are supporting and training the M23.[1]


Since October 24th, two battalions from the Ugandan military have entered BUNAGANA for RUTSHURU-CENTRE. Armed with heavy weapons and clothed in the new uniforms and army boots of the Uganda People’s Defence Force, they have run amok in the capital of the RUTSHURU Territory. Two other battalions are in KISORO, capital of the province of the same name (in Uganda) and on the Congolese-Ugandan border, not far from BUNAGANA. They will continue to constantly join their allies.These Ugandan soldiers have just joined with their RWANDAN counterparts, who are placed in KALENGERA (approximately 10km away, on the Goma route). The Civil Society of North Kivu is once again alerted to the danger facing the people of this province with the deployment of these troops from the aggressor countries.[2]


On October 27th, as thousands of Rwandan troops crossed the customs of BUNAGANA, a delegation of Rwandan councillors of the territorial administrationalso made their way to Rutshuru to advise the M23. In the Rutshuru Territory, the M23 is moving forward in its project of balkanising the DRC.

1) As such, the BWISA chiefdom was, at Rwanda’s behest, changed by the M23 to the “YIRA chieftainship”.

2) BINZA Grouping, after the former chief Mr BANYENZAKI was removed, killed and has been missing since October 27th, 2012, the CNDP/M23 supported by the Rwandan delegation in the presence of chief Kadogo and Colonel Shetani Muhima (mai-mai Shetani), the M23 proceeded to install new customary authorities. As such, the new chief of the BINZA grouping is called BATWARE ISA BIKAMIRO, his second-in-command is called MUMBERE MULAIRI, the secretary is called SIWANGU MATAGI and the names of the heads of localities will follow.

3) One month ago, another Rwandan delegation came to Rutshuru to help the M23 to quickly conduct a census of the population it controlled in the territory. It was during this time that they said that each family could only have 3 children without exception. Families that exceeded the number of 3 children would have to pay a tax equivalent to one dollar each week for the fourth child and above. The punishment for those who have many children and who do not have enough money to pay is terrible. Children are killed in front of their parents using a machete or by small used hoes called “Agafuni”.

4) A special pass has already been implemented in the Rutshuru territory, involving all of the villagers or peasants. When they want to go to markets in different capitals in the Rutshuru territory, they are required to have a paid pass. If not, they have to stay in the village. Those who live in the capitals or cities are exempt from this pass for fear of them speaking up and alerting the world.[3]


On November 14th, the Ugandan authorities decided to close the Bunagana border post, its main transit point with the DR Congo. They have not indicated as to when they intendto re-open it. According to these authorities, as quoted by the British channelBBC, Uganda made this decision to expressits dissatisfaction at being accused in a report by UN experts of supporting the rebel March 23 Movement (M23) by using the border post. Last July, the Congolese Interior Minister announced the closing of the Bunagana border under the control of the M23 rebels. The heads of the tax authority indicated that the border post generated between 400,000 and 600,000 American dollars monthly at the beginning of the rebellion.[4]


c.  The debate on the so-called Masisi elected Deputies


On November 9th, the validation of the mandates of the seven national deputies elected from the Masisi constituency in North Kivu did not take place as planned. The national deputy José Makila handed down a motion to delay the validation. He cited irregularities that tainted the legislative elections in the constituency as well as links between the deputies and the M23. The office of the National Assembly returned the file to the political, administrative and judicial committee, which took seven days to study the file. Although the Supreme Court of Justice validated the results, the author opposed the validation of these deputies’ mandates. He cited that the elected are part of the political office of the M23. José Makila conjectured that the validation of the mandates of the deputies “consisted of sacrificing the country to balkanisation.” “What the Supreme Court has just done is not right. It is why we apply article 28 of the constitution that asks that we not yield to illegal instructions,” he declared. Article 28 of the DRC constitution stipulates: “No one is obliged to execute a manifestly illegal order. Every individual, every State agent is relieved from the duty to obey if the order constitutes a manifest infringement of the respect of human rights and public liberties and morality.”

Many deputies suspect the government is secretly negotiating with the M23 and for them, we cannot take the risk of guaranteeing these eventual secret negotiations.

But some deputies maintained that the National Assembly should not rule on a judgement of the Supreme Court of Justice, indicating that the lower chamber of Parliament need only fulfil the formality of validating the mandates. “There were irregularities and disorders everywhere. But if the Supreme Court accepts these results, the National Assembly has no right to refuse the execution of these judgements, complained Jules Mugiraneza, one of the Masisi deputies.

The results of the legislative elections in the Masisi constituency were annulled by the Supreme Court of Justice last April 25th due to the irregularities that tainted the ballots in the territory. After CENI was deemed incapable of reorganising the elections as it was recommended to do so by the SCJ due to the prevailing insecurity in that area, the same results were finally published under the recommendation of the same Supreme Court of Justice.[5]


c. Armed Groups


Since the creation of the M23 rebellion and the return of war to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), new armed groups have appeared. We currently count thirty rebel movements in the region, ranging from a few hundred to thousands of men.  Alliances vary with time and circumstances. However, the majority of these movements have a common “enemy”: the FARDC, the regular Congolese army. The victims of these groups are always the same: the civilian population caught in the crossfire. Through raids, theft, and rape, the abuses carried out by these militiamen have thrown thousands of refugees onto the streets and into camps. Since the month of May and the creation of the M23, the fighting has displaced more than 300,000 in the east of the country.

The focus of the international community and the media on the M23 rebellion hides a more complex reality at the scene. The proliferation of these movements reveals foremost the shortcomings of the state in the provinces and of the particular absence of an army that could be referred to as such. Short on both pay and true leadership, the FARDC remains incapable of ensuring the safety of the population. Even worse, the regular army is equally guilty of numerous abuses against civilians.

The return of war has favoured the creation of new rebellions that profit from the surrounding chaos to reign over the territories and their riches. The control of the Congo’s underground natural resources constitutes one of the causes of conflict in North and South Kivu. If it doesn’t represent the war machine, it is surely the main fuel source. The latest of these groups to be formed is called the URDC or the Union for the Restoration of Democracy in the Congo, and claims to be “in contact” with the M23. Another armed group has appeared in the Shabunda territory in South Kivu: the Raïa Mukombozi, which is a Maï-Maï self-defence group arising from the Raïa Mutomboki, which controls a number of mining sites.

Alliances were formed between these movements, and they are often unholy. The M23, whose numbers fluctuate between 1,000 and 2,000 men, was joined by several self-defence groups such as the Pareco, the Maï-Maï Kifuafua, the Maï-Maï Fontaineor the Raïa Mutomboki. In South Kivu, we find the Maï-Maï Yakutumba, the Maï-Maï Nyatura and the Mudundu 40. In Ituri, there is militia leader Cobra Matata’s FRPI. In Kasaï-Oriental, Colonel Tshibangu defected from the regular army to demand the true results of the ballot boxes, and attempted an offensive at the beginning of October. Faced with these many hostile rebellions in Kinshasa, there are other rebels: the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The largest group is located in the east, today made up of about 3,000 men (compared to 7,000 a few years ago). This movement brings together Rwandan Hutus and Congolese opposed to the Rwandan regime of Paul Kagame.

In this continuing chaos of almost 20 years, the two Kivus remain an ideal “playground” for various “adventurers” and “rebels in training”. Given that the majority of these new armed groups have brought themselves closer to the March 23 Movement (M23), it can count on these allies (certainly on the circumstances) to win regions, place them under their control, and thus splinter Kinshasa’s authority. It is because this ragtag patchwork assembly of rebellionsshares at least one common goal: President Joseph Kabila leaving office.[6]


On November 9th, the North Kivu Security Council launched a fifteen-day ultimatum for all armed groups active in the Masisi territory to lay down their weapons and integrate into the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC). The Chief of Staff of the ground forces, the brigade commander of the 8th military region, the provincial heads of police and the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) assisted at the council presided over by the governor of the province, Julien Paluku. At the end of the ultimatum, the militiamen would take an extra five days to surrender their arms. The provincial Security Council ruled that after November 30th, Congoloese troops would track active armed groups in the Masisi territory.

Last September 27th, at Goma, three armed groups from Masisi expressed their willingness to integrate into the Congolese army. They were Colonel Janvier’s Patriotic Alliance for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCL), the Hutu militia Nyatura, and the Forces de Défense du Congo (FDC). In October, fighters from the Nyatura group who agreed to lay down their arms were regrouped in a centre in Mushaki before integrating into the army. Those from the APCL who were regrouped in Nyabondo in the south of Masisi-centre are still awaiting their integration.[7]


On November 10th, the March 23 Movement (M23) accused the army of attacking its positions since November 8th, and threatened “retaliation” if the offensive continued. “The Congolese army has attacked us for two days. On Friday, it killed ten civilians and M23 police on the axis ofKitagoma, 90 kilometres from Goma at the border with Uganda”, said lieutenant-colonel Vianney Kazarama, spokesperson for the rebellion. A version denied by the regular army. “It is they that killed these people, more than seven persons, toward Kitagoma and Bunagana, a zone under their control,” claims a superior officer at Ishasa, a vital border post with Uganda.[8]



e. The civilian population lives with the greatest unease


On October 29th, the administrator of the Beni territory, Amisi Kalonda, claims to have been contacted by men claiming to have in their custody the three priests of the Catholic parish of Mbau kidnapped by armed men last October 19th. When asked, he said that the supposed abductors claimed a ransom payment for an amount that he did not reveal. Those in charge of the civil society of North Kivu claim to have been contacted by the same people who demanded a payment of 50,000 American dollars before freeing the three priests.

The bishop of the diocese of Butembo-Beni, Monseigneur Sikuly Melchisédech, called on the abductors to respect the physical integrity of the priests. In addition, he didn’t respond to all demands by the abductors to release their hostages. The identity of the hostage-takers and their motives remains unknown to this day. But some sources in Beni attribute these abductions to Ugandan rebels of the ADF/Nalu, who are active in this zone.[9]


On November 3rd, a team of police and youths from the Shoa village found the bodies of a baby and five women killed by machetes. According to witnesses, the victims, of the Hunde ethnic group, were looking for food for their families in the fields near the Bushuhi hill, located 7 kilometres from the capital of the Masisi territory in North Kivu province. The police and the youths from the Shoa village began the search for the victims after they were late returning from the fields. The witnesses indicated that the bodies showed signs of bladed weapons. Since then, three other women have also gone missing. The Nyatura militia, made up of ethnic Hutus, is being blamed for the massacre, but it would not have acted alone. Some talk of an alliance with the Rwandan Hutu militia of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Others talk of an unholy alliance with the March 23 Movement (M23).

The civil society demands that the perpetrators of the massacre be found in order to be held accountable for their crimes before justice. According to the press release from the civil society, the murders of women and children amounts to “the strategy of ethnic cleansing” and is “a powerful message from the aggressors and their allies seeking through all means to divert the world’s attention by creating new conflicts of identity”. “This has no other goal than to render North Kivu ungovernable before proceeding towards its balkanisation,” according to the text.[10]


On November 10th, ten people were killed inRuvumbura, in the Rutshuru territory. Many others were also injured and six girls were raped. Local sources attribute this attack to combatants from the March 23 Movement (M23). Other sources suggest an incursion from rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) instead. The assailants entered at 5 o’clock local time and pillaged several homes before withdrawing.[11]





On November 8th, during a press conference organised in Kinshasa by the President and Vice President, Thomas d’Aquin Muiti Luanda and Omar Kavota, the Civil Society of North Kivu vehemently denounced the acts of rape, theft, murder and assassination perpetrated daily in its province; this following a war that the members of the organisation deem unjust aggression waged against the Congolese nation.

With respect to the Neutral International Force, the civil society of North Kivu remains sceptical as to the success of its mission. This view comes from the fact that Uganda, which is ensured the Presidency of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and which is at the same time a major promoter of this force, is still implicated in destabilising the eastern part of Congo-Kinshasa. The view of the Civil Society of North Kivu is that this force is a delaying tactic by the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni.

The president of the civil society has indeed confirmed the presence of Ugandan troops in North Kivu. From these words, seeing that Rwanda and Uganda are in the fray, the Neutral International Force will bring no results. “If Rwanda and Uganda must be reckoned with, the M23 will continue to conquer Congolese territories.

According to President Thomas d’Aquin Luanda, the Congolese military authorities asked Rwanda to allow them access so that Congolese troops could cross Rwandan territory with the goal of hitting the M23 from the outside. But Rwanda refused. It finally declared that the claims about the M23 were false, saying that it was marginalised,, and specified that the Congolese Tutsi community has more officers and generals in the FARDC.[12]


On November 11th, following a two-day meeting organised in Goma in North Kivu on the security situation in the DR Congo, the co-ordinations of the civil societies of the Maniema, Orientale, Katanga, North and South Kivu provinces demanded that the UN sanctions committee punish Rwanda, which has been accused of aggression and occupying Congolese territory. “The sanctions committee must adopt sanctions consistent with the place of the Rwandan authorities implicated in the aggression against the DR Congo, force the Rwandan army to withdraw from Congolese soil without delay and without condition, and vote on a resolution demanding that the ICC pursue those responsible for major violations of human rights and war crimes,” declared John Masimango of the civil society of Maniema. He added that the UN Security Council should also expand MONUSCO’s mandate by making its mission to impose peace with the aim of promptly eradicating the armed groups operating in the DR Congo such as the March 23 Movement (M23), the Rwandan rebels of the FDLR, the ADF/NALU, and other local militias integrated with negative forces. With regards to the M23, John Masimango proposed that they be handed over to the International Criminal Court and tried for “serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity”.[13]





On October 30th, in Kinshasa, the secretary-general of the forum of parliaments in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Higiro Prosper, declared that the solution to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) would be reached solely through diplomatic and political channels.[14]


On November 2nd, Ugandan state minister for regional cooperation, Asuman Kiyingi, declared that Uganda could decide to withdraw its troops from Somalia where they form the backbone of the African Union force, and from other peace operations in which they are involved if the UN does not retract its accusations regarding its role in the eastern DR Congo. Kampala was accused of supporting of the M23 rebellion – as with Rwanda, which was already involved previously – in a report by UN experts that was leaked in mid-October.


In Brussels, the Congolese Prime Minister, Matata Ponyo Mapon, considered an “almost hypothetical” regional solution as part of the ICGLR. In clearly implicating Rwanda and Uganda in the insecurity that runs rampant in the east, the DR Congo no longer believes in a diplomatic solution as part of the ICGLR, where arsonists and firefighters are involved.

Prime Minister Matata Ponyo was the first to establish the tone during his last European visit. His attitude was due to the lack of progress on the ground. Large divides between the stakeholders in the crisis in the east slow the undertaking of this process. On one hand, the DR Congo supports the option of strengthening the mandate of MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo) to create a Neutral International Force under the terms agreed upon in the ICGLR. Something categorically rejected by Rwanda, with which the presence of MONUSCO troops doesn’t sit well. Rwanda also retards any progression in the deployment of the Neutral International Force, preferring to limit itself to the joint verification and monitoring system agreed upon by the pact of countries in the ICGLR.

The project for the deployment of the Neutral International Force, convened last July in Addis-Ababa, has yet to become concrete. It was not mentioned above, but in the ICGLR, it has already grinded to a halt.

Adding to this deadlock are revelations repeated in the report that the United Nations is preparing to publish this month regarding the rebellion being carried out in the east of the DR Congo by troops from the M23. Until recently, only Rwanda was targeted as the main support to the M23. But in their report, the United Nations experts also held Uganda responsible, even as it leads negotiations to make the east DR Congo safe in its capacity as part of the ICGLR. As such, Uganda appears to be playing both sides of the field: putting itself forward as a mediator as it backs the M23 from the shadows.

Faced with this picture that verges on outright compromise, Kinshasa prefers to explore other paths.

Recently, a delegation from Kinshasa went to Congo-Brazzaville to request that President Denis Sassou Nguesso mediate in the crisis gripping the eastern DR Congo.

The countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) claimed readiness to take part in the Neutral International Force deployed in the eastern DR Congo. After the SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) said it was also ready to join the DR Congo in efforts in stabilising its eastern part.

There is still hesitation in Kinshasa to clearly show its intentions, for in the wings, everyone recognizes the ICGLR is powerless to bring about a sustainable solution to the crisis in the east.

Without saying it outright, the DR Congo repeatedly hints at its intention to move away from the scheme outlined at the ICGLR. It looks for better means of escaping the crisis without leaving the inter-regional organisation. Kinshasa keeps one foot inside and one out.

Kinshasa prefers to tread carefully. It does not want to hinder the international community, much less its partners in the ICGLR. It is for this reason that it continues to participate in all initiatives. This justifies the recent public appearance by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raymond Tshibanda, who strongly believed that the Neutral International Force would be operational “in the following weeks”. It remains a mystery as to its composition and its funding.[15]





On October 31st, during a press conference held in Goma, the president of the Belgian National Assembly, André Flahaut, called on Belgium and all of the western countries to commit to ending the activities of armed groups in the eastern DR Congo. He also asked the countries concerned with the unrest in this part of Africa to “commit to implement all that is necessary to end the acts of rebellion and mutiny”. He surmised that stability in the inter-region would hinge on the respect for the sovereignty and integrity of the states. “It is a pre-requisite. We cannot consider dialogue if we are not in the presence of fully sovereign states,” he continued.[16]


On November 6th, during a press conference in Kinshasa, the American Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, reiterated her country’s position in condemning the destabilisation of the DRC. Washington continues to put pressure on Kigali in order to force it to cut its support for the M23 rebellion in the eastern DRC, she said. Wendy Sherman also rejected the opinion that the United States is pretending to punish Rwanda while it continues to protect it.[17]


On November 11th, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, announced that Belgium had virtually suspended its military cooperation with Rwanda, implicated by UN experts for its support of the M23. The minister confirmed the suspension of military cooperation with Rwanda came after consultation with his Defence colleague, Pieter De Crem. “We will not form armies that could contribute to the destabilisation” in the DRC, he asserted, adding the issue of sanctions against Kigali would be explored on November 19th by the European ministers of foreign affairs. Mr De Crem assured that he was no longer in contact with his Rwanda counterpart (General James Kabarebe) since the publication of the United Nations report. The Rwandan Minister of Defence is directly implicated in the last report by the UN experts, who go as far as claiming that he is the “de- facto” commander of the M23 rebellion in the Congo.[18]


On November 13th, the United States and the UN announced sanctions against Sultani Makenga, leader of the M23 rebels, who was accused of being behind human rights violations and of violating the arms embargo in the DRC. The American Department of Treasury in particular decided to freeze the assets that the rebel leader could possess in the United States. He also indicated that American nationals that did business with Sultani Makenga would consequently be subject to prosecution. The United Nations issued a travel ban against Sultani as well as a freeze on his assets, accusing him of murder, extortion, and sexual violence in particular.

On Wednesday, the Congolese government ruled the sanctions taken against Colonel Makenga “insufficient” according to government spokesperson Lambert Mende, who implicated Rwanda.

“It is good that we are going right to the source, that is to say Rwanda. There are names that are otherwise more important, much more decisive, and much more dangerous to the populations of Kivu than Sultani Makenga. The Rwandan Minister of Defence (James Kabarebe ed.) comes to mind,” declared Mr Mende.[19]




For six months, relations between Congo-Kinshasa and Rwanda have deteriorated following revelations by UN experts implicating Rwandan officials in the M23 rebellion. The report, which was sent to the Security Council last October 12th, would be “damning” for Rwanda and Uganda. The writers accuse the regimes of Paul Kagame and Joweri Museveni of secretly leading the insurgents and of supporting them militarily and logistically.

Every day that passes, Congolese scattered to the four corners of the earth voice their complete opposition to the “balkanisation” of their country. However, it is quite unfortunate that they make no effort to ask themselves a simple question: How did we get here? It is a matter of bluntly analysing the responsibility of Congo’s sons and daughters for the current decline of their homeland. Former Zaireans pretend to forget that the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) was dismissed on October 18th, 1996 through an initiative by Ugandan and Rwandan leaders. It was the above two that appealed to André Kisase Ngandu (National Council of the Resistance), Anselme Masasu (Revolutionary Movement for the Liberalisation of Zaire), Laurent-Désiré Kabila (People’s Revolutionary Party) and Déogratias Bugera (Democratic Alliance of the People) to disguise the aggression in Zaire as an “internal rebellion”. The Ugandans and Rwandans benefited from the aide of certain Anglo-American intermediates. For the record, the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, never hid the fact that it was him that introduced LD Kabila to Kagame, then Vice-President and Minister of Defence for Rwanda.
On May 17th, 1997, Kinshasans took to the streets to celebrate the “liberators” entering the capital. “Long live the liberators!”, “Long live the liberators,” cried the Kinshasans, known for their overflowing enthusiasm. But in reality, they weren’t Congolese troops but rather Rwandans and Ugandans united under the banner of the AFDL.

A few weeks later, the activities of political parties were suspended by the new masters of the country. Racketeering, arrests and arbitrary detainment multiplied, not to mention extrajudicial executions. Former Zaireans, turned Congolese, assisted in a type of restoration of the political order they had denounced and rejected during nationwide consultations organised by President Mobutu Sese Seko before his speech on April 24th, 1990. The same rejection took place again during the Sovereign National Conference (1991-1992). Weary after seven long years of transition, the former Zaireans considered the option of “making a pact with the devil”. Provided there was change.

The “liberation” of May 17th, 1997 did not result in the “rupture” that was expected. Why? Simply because the “liberation” was nothing but a great sham. The tentacles of the AFDL continue to extend in the country through the DRC, the CNDP, and the M-23. The provincial and national institutions have been infiltrated. The AFDL is not dead. “Joseph Kabila” is a pure product. The AFDL continues to regiment Congolese affairs. From the “liberation” of May 17th, 1997 to this day, Congo is lead “by proxy”. In fact, the country is occupied. What is to be done? The Congolese must expel the occupiers and their agents.

A reader left his comment: “the solution which consists of driving out foreigners is known by all Congolese. The problem is how to do it when some of our own brothers profit from this situation and contribute to prolonging it? How do we liberate a country that counts among these traitors its own citizens who find themselves in parliament with the ability to manage the law as they please?”


Well-informed sources in Kinshasa report that “Joseph Kabila” would behave more and more like a “marked man”. Marked by certain “radicals” of the Rwandan regime. They reproach him for his “arrogance” and above all for having forgotten “who made him king”. Some of these sources indicate that Paul Kagame, supported by certain Anglo-Saxon lobbyists, would be looking for a Congolese personality to replace “Joseph Kabila.” Several names were given. Since 1997, Kagame has never given up the idea of installing a “friendly regime” in Kinshasa, a regime that presented no threat to the “national security” of Rwanda.

The historical irony would be that the Congolese allowed Kagame and  Museveni to repeat, in 2012 or 2013, their “exploits” of May 17th 1997, playing the “kingmakers” in Kinshasa.[20]


In an interview given to the daily paper Le Potentiel, Charles Onana, a French investigative journalist, claims to found it difficult to speak about the Congolese victims and of the pillaging of the DRC in Europe, despite several UN reports on these subjects. According to Onana, the media and even European senior political officials merely treat the DRC through the lens of the FDLR, and the Maï-Maï and ignore the true occupational forces. For example, any detailed mention of Rwanda’s role and of its actions in the DRC is clearly taboo in European institutions including for human rights organisations. There is an unjustifiable form of censorship. The law of silence must therefore be broken.


Concerning the east of the DRC, the journalist claims that this part became a lawless zone, where only the “rebels” and various armed groups make the law. It’s also the entry point of the Congo’s disintegration. No one wants to admit that the tragedy lived by the Congolese people in the east is the doing of a deliberate policy of predation and subjugation in which the great powers, the multinationals and mafia groups play a major role. It must be said that the “sponsors of the aggression in the Congo”, Rwanda and Uganda in particular, are vital servants of western interests.


According to Onana, it is also more than likely that certain political, civil and military authorities of the DR Congo are themselves also in collusion with those of Rwanda and the Uganda in the war in the east. On one hand, there is the aggression from Rwanda which seeks to control the riches and the demographics in the east of the DRC and on the other, there is the troubling silence of the Congolese authorities toward the ordeal experienced by the populations of this region.


It very well seems that there was a consensus made to enable the violation of the Congo’s sovereignty and to silence the terror inflicted on these peoples. This is very troubling for the future, for the Congolese cannot continue to indefinitely support the way they are treated and will end by revolting against the injustice that victimizes them. One day, they will have to be heard. I fear that it will already be too late.

For the time being, the great powers and the actors that pull the strings in this region in maintaining this instability have earnt a lot of money. They don’t see why they should move beyond the status quo as it is quite “profitable” for them. It must also be known that those who do business in a time of war and instability dream only of the perpetuation of conflict in the DRC. They must, however, reckon with the desire for change in Rwanda and the Congo. After having supported rigged elections in the two countries and encouraged censorship and the criminalisation of power, finding another “recipe” will not be easy. Yet, the Rwandans, like the Congolese, have never stopped offering reasonable solutions for a return to peace, stability and prosperity. There is therefore a fierce battle taking place between champions for the respect of international rights and proponents of political chaos.[21]













High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

In English:


[1] Cf Information Statement from the Société Civile du Nord Kivu

[2] Cf  Bulletin d’information de la Société Civile du Nod Kivu

[3] Cf Kivu-Avenir, email 31.10.’12

[4] Cf Radio Okapi, 14.11.’12

[5] Cf Radio Okapi, 10.11.’12

[7] Cf Radio Okapi, 10.11.’12

[8] Cf AFP – Goma, 10.11.’12

[9] Cf Radio Okapi, 29.10.’12

[10] Cf Radio Okapi, 04.11.’12; AFP – Kinshasa, 05.11.’12

[11] Cf Radio Okapi, 10.11.’12

[12] Cf La Prospérité – Kinshasa – Africatime, 10.11.’12

[13] Cf Radio Okapi, 11.11.’12

[14] Cf Radio Okapi, 30.10.’12

[16] Cf Radio Okapi, 01.11.’12

[17] Cf Radio Okapi, 07.11.’12

[18] Cf Belga – La Libre Belgique, 11.11.’12

[19] Cf Radio Okapi, 14.11.’12; AFP – Kinshasa, 14.11.’12

[20] Cf Baudouin Amba Wetshi – Congo Indépendant, 07.11.’12


[21] Cf Robert Kongo – Le Potentiel – Kinshasa, 07.10.’12



This French – English translation was done by the translator Nathan Kan for the PerMondo project that involves providing free translations for NGOs. This initiaitve is run by the translation agency Mondo Agit.