Humanitarian groups warn the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo is about to explode while the UN accuses Rwanda of backing rebels.
“At this point, there seems no doubt that support is coming from Rwanda, what is maybe more difficult is to identify who exactly and especially why in Rwanda they are supporting the mutiny.“
– Kris Berwouts, a Congo analyst who specilises in peace and security building in Central Africa
Congolese rebels known as M23 said they have no plan to attack the main city of Goma, in eastern DR Congo. But the group has been fighting the Congolese army in the east of DR Congo for weeks now and they have already swept away defences in several strategic towns.
The army appears to be struggling to contain the fighters.
The UN has positioned most of its artillery to help defend Goma. The peacekeeper’s mandate has always been to protect civilians but until now they have tried to avoid a fight.
The collapse of the army’s discipline in earlier battles has badly dented confidence in their willingness to fight. The provincial governor admits they have got problems, but says they can still defend the city.
On Thursday, Rwanda and Congo agreed a plan to “eradicate” armed groups. But a UN report says Rwanda is supproting the M23 with arms and recruits.
The conflict has been raising tensions between the two countries. And the UN says the rebellion has displaced more than 100,000 civilians.
So, what has triggered the latest fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo? And could it spark another regional war?
Inside Story, with presenter Sami Zeidan, discusses with guests: Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi, ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the UK; Kris Berwouts, a Congo analyst who specialises in peace and security building in Central Africa; Yussa Bunvigiye, a lawyer and member of the Congo Global Coalition; and James Kimonyo, Rwandan ambassador to the US.
“As far as the Congolese are concerned, the government in Kinshasa has deep responsibility not only to the people but also to its own constitution. In the constitution, there is an issue of decentralisation, that issue of decentralisation is an issue that is supposed to bring service to the people. And when you bring service to the people, you are going to be more sufficient in handling any matter [like] security and you can even handle social issues in the country.”
Yussa Bunvigiye, a lawyer and member of the Congo Global Coalition
FIGHTING IN DR CONGO
- UN report: Rwanda provides rebels with arms and recruits
- Rebel fighters are known as the March 23 movement or M23
- Rwanda denies backing M23 rebels in east Congo
- UN officials say M23 is apparently well equipped and growing in number
- UN plans to send more peacekeepers to DR Congo’s north Kivu province
- M23 rebels have seized several towns along the Ugandan border
- UN troops and DR Congo’s army try to protect cities in the east
- DR Congo’s poorly equipped army struggled to contain rebellion
- M23 had a deal with government in 2009 to integrate the national army
- Rebels defected from army because of poor conditions
- Fighting in north Kivu province displaced thousands of civilians
- Over 30,000 refugees registered in Uganda since fighting started
- Ban Ki-moon urged presidents of DR Congo and Rwanda to ‘defuse tensions’