News / Africa

    DRC: New Rebel Leader Drops Challenge to President

    New president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa (in orange tie) shakes hands with M23 military commander Sultani Makenga, in Bunagana in eastern DRC, March 7, 2013. (N. Long/VOA)New president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa (in orange tie) shakes hands with M23 military commander Sultani Makenga, in Bunagana in eastern DRC, March 7, 2013. (N. Long/VOA)
    x
    New president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa (in orange tie) shakes hands with M23 military commander Sultani Makenga, in Bunagana in eastern DRC, March 7, 2013. (N. Long/VOA)
    New president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa (in orange tie) shakes hands with M23 military commander Sultani Makenga, in Bunagana in eastern DRC, March 7, 2013. (N. Long/VOA)
    Nick Long

    A faction of the rebel group M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo has chosen a new civilian leader who says he won’t challenge the legitimacy of President Joseph Kabila.
     

    There was a festive atmosphere at Thursday’s M23 congress at Bunagana, a small town on the DRC-Ugandan border.


    'We’re talking about peace, we’re talking about peace' was the chorus of this theme song for the day, which played as the 200 or so M23 members, wives, husbands and other guests waited for the announcement of the movement’s new president.


    The M23 and the government have been talking about peace for the past three months and during that time the rebel movement has split into two warring factions.


    This congress was called by one of those factions, led by Sultani Makenga. The other faction is led by Jean Marie Runiga, who is close to Bosco Ntaganda, a former DRC army general who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.


    The high point of Thursday’s meeting was the announcement that Runiga had been removed as M23 president and replaced by Bertrand Bisimwa, a former spokesman for the M23 and for previous rebel movements.


    In a brief speech, Bisimwa outlined his version of the movement’s program, which, unlike Runiga’s, does not include trying to overthrow or replace the government.


    Later, he told journalists that the split between the Makenga faction and Runiga was over this issue.


    Bisimwa said the Makenga group recognizes the government, and he claimed the government returns the compliment.


    "We are the real M23. I heard yesterday the government of Kinshasa was talking about this and they said they are going to negotiate with our M23. There is no confusion about that," Bisimwa said.


    Some people think Kinsahsa and Sultani Makenga have already reached a peace deal. Makenga was asked by journalists on Thursday if it was true Kinshasa had paid him millions of dollars to sweeten the deal. His reply was confusing.


    He says he cannot say whether or not he has taken the money, adding that it’s a rumor put out by Runiga to blacken his reputation. It’s a lie, he says finally, and journalists should ask the government, they will deny it.


    Makenga was also asked if he will sign a peace deal with the government on March 15.


    He says he does not know if that will happen, adding that negotiations have not yet ended.


    Most observers think the Makenga faction has the upper hand in the M23.


    Djentio Maundu, head of research for the North Kivu Civil Society Association says the Makenga faction controls most of the territory M23 occupied last year, while the Runiga-Ntaganda faction controls only a small area. He said the faction is leaving that area and moving towards the neighboring territory of Masisi.


    A Runiga faction combatant inside that faction’s territory said this week that he wants to join the government forces.


    He said he and his colleagues could join the government forces as there is no international arrest warrant against them - only against Bosco Ntaganda.


    The fact he was prepared to say this to a reporter, regardless of the possible consequences, suggests that Runiga and Ntaganda are losing control of their faction.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Pat from: World
    March 15, 2013 11:09 AM
    M23 fighting for unknown reason since Kagame has been receiving pressure to drop supporting you and threatened by the SADC forces soon to come M23 now want to integrate DRC government. After causing all the looting, murders, displacement of population and rapes! You guys, leaders of M23 should face justice not reintegration in any army!

    by: Nason from: South Africa
    March 12, 2013 5:36 AM
    From my opinion Runinga and Ntaganda lost control of the leaderships and they cannot copy with others as they don't know what they are fighting for.We are very happy about our new president Bisisimwa .

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora