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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs