DR Congo: The M23 rebels are back at the gates of Goma and “they are not going to stop there”

DR Congo: The M23 rebels are back at the gates of Goma and “they are not going to stop there”

The M23 continues to advance in Masisi. He took over positions that were occupied by troops from the East African community. The famous Wazalandos (supplements of the Congolese army, Editor’s note) could not do anything”, explains a member of a UN institution based in Kinshasa for several years. “The M23 gives the feeling of wanting to progress faster. He obviously knows the region perfectly. We must not forget that they occupied it for a while”he continues.

M23 advances are also reported in Rutshuru and Niyragongo. “They are at the gates of Goma,” confirms Bob Kabamba, professor of political science at the University of Liège who adds: “They’re not going to stop there.” Returning this weekend from a stay in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the academic insists on the isolation of Congolese power in the region. “Everyone in the region is asking the president to negotiate and he doesn’t want to. It is difficult to request help from these countries in this context.”

DRC: The threats of John Numbi and the silence of President Tshisekedi

Once again, the DRC calls for help from countries in the region in its war against the M23 and therefore, according to Kinshasa, against Rwanda. The message was again reiterated by the Congolese authorities during the summit of heads of state of the Southern African region (SADC) which was held on November 4 in Luanda.

It was about a debate on the sending and deployment of SADC troops in eastern DRC. In the end, if the SADC countries expressed their ““concern over the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC”. Details of the future of this possible regional military deployment are still awaited. No force has been announced, no timetable, no action. According to certain sources, from Congo, South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania are up for this mission. But the various people contacted cast doubt on this idea. South Africa and Tanzania are already involved in MONUSCO troops. Without forgetting that Tanzania has already had its share of deaths in the DRC, whether in battles against rebels or during clashes with local populations.

Congolese inconsistency

While calling on the SADC for help, the DRC is still demanding the departure of the United Nations peace mission (MONUSCO) and the troops of the East African Community (EAC). However, faced with the advance of the M23 rebels, this United Nations mission launched an operation, called Springbok, to defend the towns of Goma and Saké, in partnership with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). “Our troops are deployed throughout the region and if the M23 ever approached these towns, MONUSCO and the FARDC would defend the civilian population. promised General Miranda Filho, commander of the UN force.

This attitude of MONUSCO demonstrates above all the impotence of the Congolese army. insists a diplomat “stunned by the behavior of Kinshasa which plays the proud part but is still incapable of opposing the advance of a rebel movement”.

DRC: an opposition march “against the high cost of living” dispersed by the police

All the interlocutors underline the colossal sums invested “officially” by Kinshasa for the purchase of weapons and the financing of foreign troops, citing the Rwandan FDLR or instructors from Eastern Europe. “Kinshasa uses the same terminology to talk about its mercenaries hired at a high price as Russian President Vladimir Putin when he talks about Wagner’s men. adds one of our interlocutors who recalls that “the Congolese Minister of Defense, Jean-Pierre Bemba, posed with some of them during one of his visits to Goma”. A reality which makes it difficult to take an international position in favor of Kinshasa which, once again, this weekend, in Luanda, the Angolan capital, was unable to obtain the slightest condemnation of Rwanda which the Tshisekedi government presents as the godfather , even the sole progenitor of the M23 rebellion.

Questioning of the vote

In this context of progression of the M23, difficult if not impossible to envisage a vote in the war zones. “Tshisekedi once dreamed of a victory against the M23 or even Rwanda. It would have been his best and his campaign argument. He understood today that it would not be the case,” continues an interlocutor.

He is therefore trying, after calling on the East African countries to the rescue, to motivate the countries of Southern Africa… who should replace the first arrivals asked to pack up by December 8. “It was the Minister of Communication, Patrick Muyaya, who unilaterally announced that the mandate of the EAC would not be extended. However, this is a decision that does not fall to the DRC but to a summit of heads of state of the EAC”explains Bob Kabamba, who recalls that “Tanzania is in both the EAC and SADC”. “She would therefore be rejected for incompetence on one side and courted on the other,” confirms, disappointed, the member of an international structure based in Central Africa.

The front to be formed to slow down the advance of the rebels is proving particularly complicated to put in place. On a few occasions, during his last outings, President Tshisekedi played a little music which evoked the possibility of a postponement of the December 20 election, in particular if the city of Goma were to fall into the hands of the rebels. “This would suit the Ceni which is behind schedule on its very tight schedule”; explains a source close to the matter. “Who will dare to announce this postponement?”, asks a diplomat. To obtain this postponement, Félix Tshisekedi will be forced to sit at the negotiating table with the opposition, the Churches and perhaps representatives of neighboring countries, all exhausted by the catastrophic management not only of this crisis but also of the country. by the current regime. “He knows that if he enters into this negotiation, he will have to give up on a second term”asserts an African diplomat experienced in crisis management on this continent.