News / Africa

DRC Rebels Deny Their Leader Has Been Wounded

M23 military leader General Sultani Makenga (2012 photo)
M23 military leader General Sultani Makenga (2012 photo)
Nick Long
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebel movement has denied reports that its military commander, Sultani Makenga, has been badly wounded.  An M23 spokesman also rejected a call from the United Nations mission in Congo for the movement to dismantle its administration, including a proposed law court.  

A rumor that Sultani Makenga was ambushed and seriously wounded began to circulate in Goma early this week.

An M23 spokesman, Kabasha Amani, said Thursday the rumor is false.  He said a journalist from the Reuters news agency was with Makenga at a ceremony to mark the Day of the African Child on Sunday and saw that he is in good health.

But a Congolese newspaper, L’Avenir, reported  that Makenga was ambushed and wounded on Monday, a day after that ceremony, and immediately rushed to the Nsambya Hospital in Uganda. From there, it says, he was transferred to another unidentified facility.  
Amani said he was unaware of this report and dismissed it as a joke.  He said Congo is a country of rumors and Makenga has been "killed" and "resuscitated" three times in the Congolese media.

It is true there have been similar reports in the past, and if there was panic in M23 territory as L’Avenir reports, it was not very evident Thursday during a visit to a village inside the rebel zone.

Local people were not willing to comment on the rumor of an attack on Makenga, but did respond cautiously to questions about the possible fate of 11 young men detained by M23 in connection with another alleged ambush.

A man who preferred to withhold his name said he thinks happens to suspects detained by M23.

He says there are those they arrest and take away, and some of them are killed.  Normally they are put on trial, he continues, and some of them are freed.

M23 spokesman Amani denied reports of M23 killing civilians. The head of the U.N. mission in Congo, Roger Meece, said this week he was troubled by the M23’s recent announcement that it would put the 11 defendants on trial.

Meece said the accused could not be guaranteed a fair trial under the circumstances, and he called on the M23 to dismantle what he called its illegitimate parallel administration.
An M23 combatant, Innocent Tchubahiro confirmed the movement has its own police force.

The government police fled the area, he says, and other police came who are with the M23.

The U.N. mission, MONUSCO, reports that there are no qualified magistrates in M23’s territory, but rebel spokesmen deny this.  Amani said the movement has trained its own criminal investigators and intends to combat impunity and defend human rights, which it can only do by putting suspects on trial.

The combatant Tchubahiro dismissed the suggestion that the M23 should close down its administration.

"That’s impossible," he says.  "Wherever there are authorities and people under them, there has to be an administration," he explains.

Tchubahiro said the M23 has not imposed new taxes on ordinary people, but is levying tolls on traffic passing through the territory.

Those tolls are heavy, according to truck drivers like Kambale Kahanirwa, who was waiting at a checkpoint near Goma.

"I’ve driven 180 kilometers from Kanyabayonga," he says, "and the journey has taken three days because of all the shakedowns along the way."

He and other truck drivers said many checkpoints on that route are manned by the M23, other militias and the government army, but the M23 gets most of the tolls.

"The M23 charged me $350 for this load of cassava," he says, "and with the other checkpoints the tolls come to about $500 total."

His load might have been worth about $3,300.

The combatant Tchubahiro said the tolls pay his wages.

Tchubahiro was asked if he could comment on the rumors that his commander had been badly wounded in an ambush by a pro-government militia.

“Ah, now the interview is getting complicated,” he said, and walked away.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs