News / Africa

DRC Rebels Vow to Overthrow Government

The M23 rebels spokesman Vianney Kazarama (L) speaks to the crowd gathered at a stadium in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 21, 2012.
The M23 rebels spokesman Vianney Kazarama (L) speaks to the crowd gathered at a stadium in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 21, 2012.
VOA News
Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have vowed to seize more territory and topple President Joseph Kabila.

The M23 rebels held a rally Wednesday at a stadium in the eastern city of Goma, which they captured a day earlier. Rebel spokesman Vianny Kazarama said the rebels plan to keep on moving.

"President Kabila brought war planes and big guns, but he was unable to defeat us," he said. "That is a clear sign that we are part of God's plan; we were sent by God and this will not end here," said Kazarama.

Who Are the M23 Rebels?

  • Named for March 23, the date of a 2009 peace deal
  • Contains fighters once loyal to a rebel army who assimilated into the DRC army, then defected
  • Formed in early 2012
  • Dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group
  • Also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army
  • UN experts say the group is backed by Rwanda, which Rwanda denies
Hundreds of Congolese police and troops surrendered their weapons at the rally.

Kazarama said the rebels' next goal is Bukavu, 100 kilometers to the south. He said the group already controls the town of Sake, also south of Goma, and plans to eventually reach Kinshasa, the capital, more than 1,500 kilometers to the west.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to impose sanctions against M23 leaders. The French-sponsored resolution demands that the rebels immediately pull out of Goma, located on the Rwandan border, and condemns all foreign support for the group.

The DRC and U.N. experts accuse Rwanda of supporting M23 - a charge Rwanda denies.

Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame met late Tuesday and again Wednesday in Uganda's capital, Kampala.  

  • M23 rebels guard weapons given to them by the government's army, Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
  • A Congo government policeman hands in his weapon to M23 rebels during an M23 rally in Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
  • Congo government policemen, foreground, and civilians gather during a M23 rally in Goma, Congo, November 21, 2012.
  • A M23 fighter, wearing a belt of ammunition, walks down a street in Goma, after the rebels captured the city from the government army, November 20, 2012.
  • People walk the streets of Goma, DRC during a lull in the fighting, November 20, 2012. (VOA 100 Citoyens journalistes de RD Congo)
  • M23 rebels in the streets of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 rebels enter Goma, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 rebels celebrating their takeover of Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 spokesperson Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama entering Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 Rebels patrolling in Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)

Congolese leaders have refused to hold direct talks with the rebels unless Rwanda is included.

On Tuesday, M23 fighters seized Goma with no resistance, after Congolese troops fled and 1,500 U.N. peacekeepers stood by.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday it is "absurd" that there are 17,000 peacekeepers in all of Congo and they could not stop several hundred men. He called for a review of the peacekeepers' mandate.

The U.N. says about one million people are in Goma, many of them displaced from other areas by earlier fighting between the army and M23. The city is the capital of mineral-rich North Kivu province, where the government and U.N. peacekeepers have tried to subdue local rebel and militia groups for years.

Watch related video of rebels and negotiations between DRC, Rwanda officials

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Souleymane Belem from: Ouagadougou
November 21, 2012 1:41 PM
Why are these people straight to condamn rebellion in Congo and don't seem to understand that more importantly, they should do the same in Siria ?

by: mo from: world
November 21, 2012 8:01 AM
Shame on you Fabius, winning a war does not depends on number of fighters but the reasons and motivation why they are fighting. M23 are fighting for themselves, their families in refugees camps for many years above that, fight the arrogance of the Government of Congo. I wish sustainable peace of DRC which will be based on unity, talks and good governance.

by: SNabende from: Kampala
November 21, 2012 6:48 AM
While talks are welcome it should not be lost on all observers the nature of Kagame and Museveni who started their military adventure in Uganda in 1981. Much of the fighting was by Tusti refugees who had been exiled in Uganda after the 1959 troubles that ousted Tustis from power in Ruanda. Many Ugandans did not understand the real motive and identinty of the NRA, the group formed by Museveni and Kagame. After overrunning Kampala in 1986, four years later in 1990, Kagame and other Tustis took arms from Uganda and fought their way into power in Kigali after a genocide in 1994. Two years later, in 1996, Kagame and Museveni made a push on Kinshasa first to remove Mobutu then to take over Congo. This mission has never been finished and today the original NRA that started in Kampala is called M23 in DRC. The methods and some of the personalities are still the same.
It is up to the international community to decide whether Museveni and Kagame should always have their way in advancing the cause of Rwanda Tustis in East & Central Africa.
In Response

by: PASCAL NIYONZIMA from: RWANDA ARMY
November 23, 2012 6:16 AM
I have been in this RPF army for 15 years now, there is no good solutions will come out buy talking and UN involved, because KAGAME is forcing us to go far as KINSHANSA. I am so sorry for the congeries will lose their life in this war, sooner from now this war will be stronger than ever.
To the congeries please move out soon as possible, KAGAME will not allowing us to move back from GOMA we are advancing feather, remember what happened in 1993 the talks with KAGAME and HABYARIMANA did end the RWANDA war or become worse?
I am just sergeant nothing i can do, but God will pay him back for the wrong things KAGAME is doing to his own people, there is no M23 fighting in Congo the soldiers are in GOMA are RPF please don’t be stupid to accept that M23 is other part we are total RPF .
I am sick and tied of this man called KAGAME i know his my Boss but go to hell of it.
I will protect and save any person i will meet on the way in our attacks, with soldiers in my unity we will give no shit of KAGAME.

NB: Civilians please move out SAP
In Response

by: Alexander Gandah from: paynesville,Liberia
November 21, 2012 9:55 PM
friend we are almost saying the same thing the UN does not want to help congo in any way cuz the suspected kigame and museveni should be arrested and made to answer some questions about their role in the conflict.

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