Kivu troubles: Short wrap up and media review

(mis à jour depuis première publication)

A spectacle of disinformation and contradictory rumours has been taking place after the seizure of Goma on November 20th and much of the events are still difficult to recap at this point. Saturday morning, however, actual withdrawal of the rebel movement began and many journalists present in Goma witnessed combatants leaving the city. The withdrawal comes at a moment almost as unforeseen than the conquest two weeks before. Despite heavy diplomatic pressure, especially from major powers and the regional organisation for peace and security in the Great Lakes, ICGLR (with Ugandan, Rwandan, and DRC governments jointly asking for M23’s retreat) M23 first did not seem to accept the demands. They issued, on their side, a catalogue of demands to the DRC government, including aspects such as free movement for Tshisekedi and the detention of General Numbi, a main suspect of the Chebeya assassination – basically things which the Kabila government would never accept (as government spokesman Lambert Mende has more or less made clear).

Series of allegations accompanied M23’s short de facto rule (which might persist in another shape, though camouflaged, now but that is too early to tell) in the capital of North Kivu. Targeted killings, forced recruitment, and different sorts of looting (cars, arms, ammunition, fuel, and logistics) are on table in these regards. Much of it is indirectly attributed to the governments of neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, being freshly accused by the UN Group of Experts of direct military support during the take of Goma as New York Times report (see below). The coming weeks will experience a high level of tension remaining in and around Goma. While M23 announced to retreat towards Kibumba as one of their spokespersons, Bisimwa, said in an interview (see below), Congolese police retook Goma and one FARDC battalion is going to be redeployed, probably together with some M23 combatants and a hundred of ICGLR’s neutral force from Tanzania (a force initially designed to be a 4000 soldiers robust battle force, but their future configuration and activity remains unclear besides the made announcements).

Around Goma, many witnesses report M23 soldiers changing their (often Rwandan, although this is no ultimate proof of RDF support) uniforms and maintain a certain grip on the region. Also from Mushaki, behind Sake on the road to Masisi, troop movements are reported northwards (Kirolirwe – Kitchanga axis) that might indicate a increased presence of M23 and allies around Masisi. This coincides with Sheka’s militia advancing from Pinga to Kalembe (where he seems to have been attacked by Masisi-based FDLR troops) towards Mweso. The security void in and around Goma has become obvious during yesterday’s attack of Mugunga III IDP site. An FDLR attack into Rwandan territory happened again, repulsed by RDF forces that according to Rwandan foreign minister Mushikiwabo will know further increase military presence at the border to avoid DRC troubles crossing into Rwanda.

In the following, I present a selection of articles and comments worth reading. Without prejudice to the authors, I give brief comments for each:

International Peace Information Service dissects myths and rumours surrounding M23.

J. Peter Pham’s erroneous op-ed in the NY Times gives a clear account of how a right observation (“DRC difficult to govern”) leads to wrong and politically dangerous conclusions.

Congolese diaspora blogger Alex Engwete responds to Pham’s pamphlet. While I cannot support the language Engwete chose to attack Pham, many of his point are worth thinking about in terms of content.

Also, BlackstarNews’s Milton Allimadi seizes the shortcomings of the NY Times op-ed.

In this one, Congo analyst Jason Stearns opens up some fields to debate in light of the current crisis.

Kä Mana from Pole Institute reports from the Goma seizure.

In the NY Times “room for debate” section, a discussion on current Congo troubles with six different opinions took place. The contribution of Severine Autesserre is particularly recommendable while John Prendergast fully misses the point.–-by-judith-verweijen/

Here, Judith Verweijen draws a couple of interesting comparisons and analyses the failure of previous peace deals. Here, Jason Stearns receives a couple of very interesting answers from M23’s political spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa.

David Barouski, on his new blog, gives a thorough account of the often confusing events that have marked Goma and it surroundings since November 20th. Complex, but worth reading.

Colette Braeckman gives her response to five crucial questions on Goma.–-by-kris-berwouts/

Analysis by Kris Berwouts including an interesting comparative historical approach, though the two-phase repartition misses some important dynamics.

The NY Times leaked the most recent contribution of the UN Group of Experts, tracing alleged involvement of RDF troops in the recent M23 offensives.

With many interesting points of observation, the analysis presented here remains superficial, unfortunately. Small factual errors (cf. Raia Mutomboki) are included too.

Sonia Rolley here delivers a phantastic contribution on why the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, MONUSCO (formerly MONUC) fails to live up to expectations and fulfil its mandate. While many (see before) only present simplistic MONUSCO bashing, this one goes to the roots.

A pladoyer for more scrutiny towards Susan Rice’s ambiguous role in the Great Lakes Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja’s flamboyant call for the Congolese people.

Melanie Gouby explains the M23 and why it is not exactly the same than CNDP and RCD, despite similiarities. and

The two first Usalama project reports by Rift Valley Institute.

Many other interesting stuff has been written, so this review is all but exhaustive, contributions are therefore welcome in the comments section.

One Response to “Kivu troubles: Short wrap up and media review”
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  1. […] Rwanda and Uganda in their support for M23. If any of this article, or what you have been reading in the news, sparks your interest, we encourage you to come learn more. When I interviewed Congolese civilians, […]

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