News / Africa

DR Congo, Rwanda Agree on 'Partial Solution' to M23 Rebellion

M23 rebel fighters rest at their defense position in Karambi, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in north Kivu province, near the border with Uganda, July 12, 2012.
M23 rebel fighters rest at their defense position in Karambi, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in north Kivu province, near the border with Uganda, July 12, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Nick Long
KINSHASA — The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have agreed to a proposal for a neutral force to be stationed along their border.  The agreement, signed by the presidents of the two countries on Sunday, says the proposed force would help to eradicate the Congolese rebel movement, the M23, and other armed groups in the region.

The proposal was put forward by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, an inter-governmental body for 11 countries including Rwanda, Congo and other neighboring states.

It is not clear which of these countries would supply troops for the neutral force, nor where the money would come from, although the African Union has said it would be prepared to help.

Rwanda’s foreign minister has said the agreement is not the solution, but part of the solution to the M23 rebellion, which started in April and which Rwanda denies supporting.

The M23 rebels are led by ethnic Tutsi commanders who for many years have had strong links with the Tutsi-dominated government in Rwanda.

A Congolese Tutsi community leader, Edouard Mwangachuchu, says that the agreement is a good sign and suggests the M23 war can be settled by negotiation. "I think the Congolese government is working very hard to finish this war, by negotiation, and I think if Rwanda cooperates with the government, this war will end," he said.

The M23 rebels take their name from an agreement they signed with the DRC government on March 23, 2009, in which they agreed to integrate with the army and to turn their political wing, then called the CNDP, or National Congress for the Defense of the People, into a political party.

They say they started the M23 rebellion because the March 23 agreement was never properly implemented.

Senator Mwangachuchu helped to negotiate that agreement in 2009 and is currently the president of the CNDP.  He admits that the agreement was not fully implemented but says that the M23 leaders should have talked this through with the government instead of starting a new rebellion.

Mwangachuchu says that everything still needs to be negotiated and he suggests that the 2009 agreement could still be a basis for talks between the M23 and the government. "They could just go back and go over the things that the agreement says.  So they could say we have [agreed] this and it did not happen," he said. "At that time we could go back and review all the agreement and fix the things that were not done."

Controversial points in the agreement are likely to include the return of some 53,000 Congolese Tutsi refugees from Rwanda and the future deployment of Tutsi soldiers in the Congolese army.  It is not clear how many of those refugees have returned, and the Tutsi soldiers from the CNDP have for years resisted being deployed away from the Kivu provinces, their home region.

Another Congolese Tutsi leader, Senator Moise Nyarugabo, says some Tutsi soldiers have difficulty fully integrating with the army because they face discrimination from other communities.  

"I think this is one reason why some soldiers from the Tutsi community are not ready to go very far from the Kivu - it’s such kind of discrimination.  Even some soldiers are afraid to go far from where they can protect themselves," said Nyarugabo.

Tutsis in Congo have never been victims of a genocide as the Tutsis were in Rwanda, but they have faced expulsion from certain areas.  They have nevertheless been more successful in business than other communities, and their large land acquisitions over the the years and during recent wars have caused resentment.

Hostility to Congolese Tutsi also stems from the fact that many of them have been close allies of the Rwandan army in Congo’s recent wars.  Several times, Rwanda has supported rebellions in eastern Congo on the grounds that it still faces a threat from the remnants of Rwandan Hutu forces which fled the area after the 1994 genocide.

Senator Mwangachuchu says the great majority of Tutsi soldiers in the Congolese army have not joined the M23, which was thought to have only a few hundred fighters, but in the past two weeks has defeated much larger Congolese army forces.

It is widely believed that the trigger for the M23 rebellion was the judgement by the International Criminal Court against the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, who was found guilty of conscripting and using child soldiers.  One of the M23’s leaders, Bosco Ntaganda, is co-accused with Thomas Lubanga and faces an ICC arrest warrant.

It’s thought he started the rebellion because he was afraid of being handed over to the Hague.

Senator Nyarugabo said he was not happy with the way the ICC had been doing its job since it had only convicted one person, Thomas Lubanga, in 10 years.

"And the only charge they got him on was recruitment of child soldiers in the army.  Do you know how many armed groups in Africa are recruiting child soldiers?  Almost all of them," explained Nyarugabo. "I’m sorry, personally I am not very proud of that international justice.  Sometimes I have the impression they are just doing some politics."

But Nyarugabo also said that recruitment of child soldiers should be discouraged and Bosco Ntaganda should have to take responsibility for his acts.  

Nyarugabo insists that the Tutsi community should not be stigmatized as rebels.  He points out that many of them are fighting against the M23.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid