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Congolese M23 Rebellion Unravelling Under Pressure and Following Dissension

Congo M23 Rebellion that has been terrorizing Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), maiming, raping, and mass murdering civilians in North Kivu province is allegedly unravelling. According to sources within M23, the causes of the potential collapse of the short lived rebellion are both internal and external.

External causes.
From its creation, M23 has heavily relied on forces supplied by Rwandan Defense Forces. Rwandan Defense Forces formed the bulk of high and mid commanding officers, with the ranks of the troops mostly composed of recruits from three sources:

  • ex Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) who had been repatriated to Rwanda, demobilized, trained by Rwandan Defense Forces and sent back to DRC.
  • Homeless Hutu youth, rounded up in streets and villages across Rwanda, sent to the Iwawa goulag camp (see our article: Iwawa, the Rwandan Gulag), trained, given Congolese identity cards and sent to fight in DRC, within CNDP, then M23, Mai-Mai Raia Mutomboki, and Mai-Mai Cheka.
  • Young Congolese Tutsis, forcibly recruited from refugee camps of Congolese Tutsis inside Rwanda and sent back to the DRC.
  • With the recent intense international pressure on Rwandan government, Rwanda Defense Minister General James Kabarebe gave order to repatriate some of these forced recruits. Hence M23 commanders saw their troops shrinking and unable to control the areas conquered. The intense pressure on Rwandan government has led to the reduction its support to M23. This in turn, pushed M23 to review its ambitions.

    Internal Causes
    When Rwandan government started feeling the heat from international overhweliming condemnation, Rwandan government asked M23 leaders to ally themselves with Congolese rebellions, (see our article: “M23 to Reorganize After Taking Masisi; General Lafontaine to Become Overall Commander”>especially the rebellion led by Colonel Kahasha from Shi tribe and General Kakule Lanfontaine, a Nande. The idea was to give M23, a Congolese image.

    To get the collaboration from these other Congolese rebels, M23 promised to combine its forces with General Lafontaine’UPCP and Colonel Kahasha’s. The plan was to appoint General Kakule Lafontaine as the overall commander, Colonel Kahasha as Operations Commander and Colonel Mboneza, a Congolese Tutsi, as the Overall Deputy Commander. Colonel Makenga, M23 commander, was to remain in the background, to coordinate the relations with General Laurent Nkunda and General James Kabarebe, the real M23 sponsors.

    Colonel Makenga, General Lafontaine and Colonel Kahasha agreed to make the collaboration official after conquering Goma and Masisi.
    Colonel Kahasha’ troops, that had come from the Beni area, progressed towards Lumangabo and seized the area with the support of Rwandan Defense Forces. Colonel Mboneza pushed northwestward seizing Kiwandja and Mabenga. M23 original troops had retaken Bunagana and Rutshuru with the help of Rwandan Defense Forces. General Lafontaine’s troops seized Ishasha and South Lubero. Advanced Rwandan Defense Forces commandos, working with Raia Mutomboki and Mai-Mai Cheka, started planning the march on Kisangani and briefly seized the city of Walikale and progressed into Maniema.

    After seizing Bunagana, Rutshuru, Lumangabo, Kiwandja, Ishasha, South Lubero, Kitchanga, Mabenga, and threatening Goma, Masisi and Walikale, M23 rebels appeared unstoppable. Then, they made serious mistakes.

    M23 Tutsi commanders formed a government. According to sources close to General Kakule Lafontaine and Colonel Kahasha, both learned of the formation of M23 government from Radio Okapi.
    “Colonel Kahasha was just furious, about to explode with anger. He felt betrayed and played by the Rwandans,” according to sources associated with Colonel Kahasha.
    “General Kakule Lafontaine simply said: how I am not surprised by these Rwandans! They think they can just use us like that!” sources close to General Lafontaine told AfroAmerica Network.

    Immediately after the announcement of the government by Radio Okapi, Colonel Makenga, the M23 Commander called General Lafontaine and Colonel Kahasha to apologize. He argued that M23 commanders and politicians had acted under the orders of the Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe who ordered them to form a government without delay and without informing anyone beforehand.
    The harm was already done. Colonel Kahasha withdrew all his troops already surrounding Goma and others advancing on Masisi. He has sent them to Bukavu area, his region of origin, where intends to reorganize his rebellion, independently from M23. General Lafontaine has also withdrawn his troops from M23 and redeployed them in Lubero, Butembo and Beni areas, with the aim to refocus on his UPCP.

    According to sources within M23, M23 Congolese troops have been now reduced to less than 600. Without the reinforcement from Rwandan Defense Forces, it appears that the days of M23 may be numbered. M23 commanders are already making a contingency plan to get ready for an eventual major military operation by FARDC and MONUSCO.

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