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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora