Al Qarra English’s Melissa Chemam interviews Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director, about the Democratic Republic of Congo and the conflict in the eastern province of North Kivu
Showing posts tagged as "congo"
Showing posts tagged congo
DR Congo rebels, govt prepare for peace talks | AFP
By Max Delany
GOMA, DR Congo — Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo were preparing for peace talks with government officials in Uganda, officials said Wednesday, as the pope urged the warring sides to reconcile.
Rebel group M23’s political leader Jean-Marie Runiga said his guerrillas were “ready” for talks, which are expected to include a raft of potential demands, including major political reform for the war-weary region.
The rebels’ lightning capture of the mining hub of Goma on November 20, eight months after the army mutineers launched an uprising against the government, had sparked fears of a wider war and a major humanitarian crisis.
The rebels, largely from the ethnic Tutsi community, pulled out of Goma at the weekend.
Uganda, despite being accused by UN experts of having provided logistical support to the M23, claims it strongly denies, will host and mediate the negotiations.
“We are hoping they will begin in the next few days”, said James Mugume, a senior official in the Ugandan foreign ministry, adding no date had been set for them to begin.
Photo: Church Mission Society (CMS)/Flickr
CrisisWatch N°112 | 01 Dec 2012
In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east, M23 rebels launched an offensive against the national army, breaking a tenuous ceasefire agreed in August. After several days of fighting they captured the key cities of Goma and Sake in North Kivu. Thousands of civilians fled their homes. A UN Panel of Experts report confirmed continuing support for the rebels from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda. Following a reported agreement with regional leaders, M23 rebels appear now to be withdrawing from Goma.
In Egypt President Mohammed Morsi’s controversial constitutional declaration on 22 November temporarily granted him greater powers, including immunity from judicial review, until a new constitution comes into force. The move triggered fresh protests, and pro-Morsi counter-protests, across the country, some of which turned violent. Morsi justified the declaration as necessary to prevent Mubarak-era judges from sabotaging the country’s transition. His opponents condemned it as a power-grab. The Constituent Assembly approved a draft constitution at the end of the month, after more non-Islamists withdrew from the body. Discontent about the draft’s content and its rushed completion further fuelled protests. The month’s developments have deepened polarisation between supporters and opponents of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Both camps took to the streets again today.
November 2012 TRENDS
DR Congo, Egypt
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December 2012 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alert
Conflict Resolution Opportunity
War looms once again in Congo | The Washington Post
By Editorial Board
ONE OF THE globe’s worst killing fields is once again aflame. The eastern region of Congo was the epicenter of two wars in the past 15 years that laid waste to an estimated 5 million lives — many lost to hunger and disease that followed in the footsteps of armed conflict.
On Tuesday, a rebel group, M23, seized the provincial capital of Goma as Congolese army forces and U.N. peacekeepers fell back. The fighting has intensified an already dire humanitarian crisis. Since the beginning of this year, more than 650,000 people have been uprooted in the regions of North and South Kivu. A series of fragile peace agreements reached in recent years are in tatters.
FULL ARTICLE (The Washington Post)
Photo: Uniest Nations Photo/Flickr
Congolese Rebels Seize Goma, Take Airport | AP via ABC News
By Melanie Goumy and Rukmini Callimachi
A rebel group believed to be backed by Rwanda seized the strategic, provincial capital of Goma in eastern Congo on Tuesday, home to more than 1 million people as well as an international airport in a development that threatens to spark a new, regional war, officials and witnesses said.
Explosions and machine-gun fire rocked the lakeside city as the M23 rebels pushed forward on two fronts: toward the city center and along the road that leads to Bukavu, another provincial capital which lies to the south. Civilians ran down sidewalks looking for cover and children shouted in alarm. A man clutched a thermos as he ran.
Thousands of residents fled across the border to Rwanda, the much-smaller nation to the east which is accused of funneling arms and recruits to the M23 rebels.
Photo: Julien Harneis/Flickr
« Les rebelles du M23 souhaitent forcer le gouvernement congolais à des négociations, des négociations directes avec le président Joseph Kabila. Ils ne les ont pas obtenues, et la mise sous pression de la ville de Goma fait partie de leur stratégie, comme elle avait fait partie de la stratégie de Laurent Nkunda en 2008. »
—Thierry Vircoulon parle au sujet des rebelles du M23 avec RFI
Photo: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection/Flickr
DR Congo’s Goma: Avoiding a New Regional War
Brussels/Nairobi | 20 Nov 2012
The east Congolese city of Goma and its key airport have reportedly fallen after heavy fighting to the M23 rebel group. Regional and international actors must now prevent this turning into a new regional war.
The past week has shown history repeating itself in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the same tragic consequences for civilians in the region (see Crisis Group briefing from 4 October for background).
On 15 November 2012, the M23 rebel movement, with – according to the DRC – the backing of Rwanda’s armed forces, broke the 25 July de facto ceasefire observed with the Congolese army (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC) and launched an offensive against Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Unable, despite numerous attempts, to extend its control over the resource-rich Masisi territory, constrained by Uganda’s closure of its Bunangana border with the DRC and frustrated by the decision of the UN Security Council to place its main leader, Sultani Makenga, on the UN sanctions list, the M23 had finally decided to make real its threat to attack the city. On 18 November, following three days of fighting, the movement broke the FARDC’s resistance and tried to force the government of President Joseph Kabila to negotiate.
On 19 November, after several fruitless attempts at talks and an ultimatum from the M23 to the government, fighting broke out inside Goma, a city under the defence of the FARDC and UN peacekeepers (MONUSCO). The M23’s ultimatum had demanded the FARDC’s withdrawal from, and the demilitarisation of, Goma and its airport; the reopening of the Bunangana border post; and an inclusive negotiation process to bring in the unarmed Congolese political opposition, civil society and the diaspora. By making this demand, the M23 aimed to reduce the crisis to a domestic affair, thereby preventing Kinshasa from internationalising it in order to negotiate a solution at the regional level through the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) with those neighbouring countries that allegedly support the M23 rebellion.
While negotiations were on the verge of starting in Goma, President Kabila ultimately refused to recognise the M23 as a legitimate interlocutor, and clashes broke out inside the city. The rebels entered Goma on 20 November, forcing the Congolese army to retreat to Sake.
The new offensive is a tragic repeat of the threat by Laurent Nkunda’s Conseil National de Défense du Peuple (CNDP) to take Goma in 2008. Once again, the civilian population is paying a heavy price. As in 2008, the same causes could produce the same fearful effects:
- the fall of Goma could lead to serious human rights abuses against civilian populations;
- the settling of accounts or even targeted extrajudicial executions against authorities and civil society activists who have taken a stance against the M23 since the beginning of the crisis in March could raise the death toll and fuel more violence;
- Kinshasa’s capitulation to the M23 could send shock waves throughout the Kivus and relaunch open warfare between the DRC and Rwanda; and
- the UN and the ICGLR, both responsible for conflict management in the region, are being discredited.
As immediate steps, regional and international actors must secure:
- an end to fighting inside Goma;
- M23’s commitment to respect MONUSCO’s mandate to fully protect civilians; and
- M23’s concrete assurances, visible on the ground, to respect civilians and property in areas under their control, and prevent further human rights abuses.
To avoid a regional implosion, the following steps are also necessary:
- explicit condemnation by the UN Security Council, African Union (AU) and ICGLR of external involvement in the fighting;
- immediate efforts by MONUSCO’s leadership to seek to negotiate and secure a formal ceasefire, as well as accelerate the deployment of the Joint Verification Mechanism and the Neutral Force agreed by the ICGLR;
- sanctions by the European Union (EU), UN Security Council, and especially France, the UK and the U.S., as well as the AU, not only against the rebellion’s leaders, but also against their external supporters;
- an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the actions of the M23 and new armed groups, and the request by the court that MONUSCO transfer its files concerning M23 leaders; and
- the immediate establishment of a joint fact-finding mission in the region by the AU, EU, Belgian, South African and U.S. special envoys for the Great Lakes to determine the best course for arriving at the long-term resolution of this crisis.
The immediate priority is to stop the current fighting and protect civilians.
Long-term solutions will require that the UN Security Council, AU and ICGLR ensure that peace agreements and that stabilisation plans no longer remain empty promises. To achieve this, coordinated and unequivocal pressure on the Congolese government and the M23 rebel movement, as well as the latter’s external supporters, is required from international donors and regional actors.
Photo: United Nations Photo/Flickr
DRC: Tough bargaining with armed groups | IRIN
Since May, the M23 rebellion by a group of army mutineers has allowed a number of armed groups to expand and take back territory from the government.
According to the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), there are now more than 30 armed groups in the eastern provinces. Most of these probably number a few hundred or less, but some might play an important role in the confrontation between the army and the M23.
The conflict currently looks like a stand-off, despite a seemingly huge imbalance of forces. The think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) estimates that the army recently had 7,000 troops deployed against the M23, which numbered only around 1,000. Both sides have been reinforced, with Human Rights Watch and other observers alleging that units of the Rwandan army have supported the M23 during major engagements.
Photo: Al Jazeera English/Flickr
The allegations of Rwanda supporting M23 rebels in northern Kivu are very credible. It’s not only the panel of experts, it’s many independent organisations, including the International Crisis Group, who recently published a report on the subject and who point out the role of Rwanda in this crisis.
The involvement of Uganda seems to be more recent but is also credible. There have been allegations of Uganda supporting M23 since July 2012 but it seems more realistic that this support is more recent and is a consequence of the downsizing of Rwanda’s support for M23 after several countries imposed sanctions on Rwanda."
Marc-Andre Lagrange, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst, Central Africa, on Rwandan and Ugandan support for M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo