News / Africa

In Eastern Congo, M23 Rebels Battle for Hearts, Minds

In Eastern Congo, M23 Rebels Battle for Hearts, Mindsi
X
July 22, 2013 5:18 PM
M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are trying to strengthen their grip on areas under their control as they come under attack by the Congolese army. The residents of rebel-held towns in eastern Congo, however, are growing weary of the ongoing conflict. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from Congo.
In Eastern Congo, M23 Rebels Battle for Hearts, Minds
Gabe Joselow
M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are trying to strengthen their grip on areas under their control as they come under attack by the Congolese army. The residents of rebel-held towns in eastern Congo, however, are growing weary of the ongoing conflict.

At a church in eastern Congo, the faithful pack the pews in what looks like a regular prayer service. But this is not about religion. It’s a lesson in rebellion taught at the M23 rebel group's military academy.
 
The people here, gathered from nearby towns, are being taught the ideology of this group of disaffected soldiers that has controlled territory in eastern Congo since breaking away from the army last year.

M23 rebels are trying to cement control over this area, which they say has been neglected for too long by the government in Kinshasa.

War's strife

Outside the academy walls, though, the rebels have been losing ground to the Congolese army in a week of fighting a few kilometers from the economic hub of Goma, which was held by the rebels for 10 days last year.
 
Meantime, continuing peace talks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, have shown little progress.

M23 spokesman Vianney Kazarama said that with weapons they took from their raid on Goma, his group has no problem continuing the military campaign, but they would rather see a political solution.
 
“We don’t have the intention to continue the war. There is no benefit to war, for solving the problems of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Kazarama.

In the M23 stronghold of Rutshuru, residents have long paid the cost of conflict since the rebellions of the 1990s.
 
Civilians pay the price


People here want nothing to do with war and politics.

That includes Valerie Baoukahe, who heads an association for victims of sexual violence. “We want to get peace. Whoever wins can win, whoever loses can lose. For us, all we want is peace,” she said.
 
Other residents complain of looting, abductions and murders being committed in the area, with no one ever brought to justice.
 
Ntamu Gashamba, a history professor at Rutshuru Institute, said businesses also have been hurt by the insecurity brought by the M23 rebels.
 
“If the army could return it would be better, because the sellers would be able to sell their merchandise without any problems, it would be a good situation,” said Gashamba.
 
Back at the church, M23 still hopes to win the hearts and minds of the population.
 
With pressure on the battlefield, and growing discontent in towns, though, the future of the rebels is far from certain.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More