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Kinshasa: How Rwandan Defense Forces Conquered Goma and M23 Claimed Victory

On Tuesday November 20, 2012, Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) invaded Goma on two axes. After a few hours of fight, the Congolese army, known as FARDC, fled and the Rwandan backed rebels, known as M23, entered the abandoned city from the outskirts to the North and claimed victory. The seizure of Goma by Rwandan Defense Forces highlighted, once again, the fact that without Rwandan President General Paul Kagame’s Support, M23 rebel group would be inexistent.

AfroAmerica Network sources within Rwandan Defense Forces have given us detailed accounts on how Goma was conquered and who played what role and what happened and is happening behind the scenes.

An Invasion Carefully Planned in Kigali, Rwanda

On Monday Nov 19/2012, FARDC allegedly shelled the border town of Gisenyi, on the Rwandan territory. The shelling was widely condemned by Rwandan military leaders who issued veiled threats to retaliate. According to AfroAmerica Network sources, immediately after the alleged shelling, General Paul Kagame summoned his top military leaders and announced that the excuse to seize North Kivu Capital City of Goma has been found. He then gave an order to immediately deploy around 4,000 RDF troops that would march on Goma.
The invasion started on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 on two axes: one group of Rwandan troops went after the Goma airfield engaging the FARDC soldiers that guarded the airport and the Radio/TV station; the second group attacked the Goma City center.
FARDC troops, expecting the attacks to come from M23 rebels to the North of Goma were surprised when they were attacked from Lake Kivu on the South and South East. They fled westward to the town of Sake, abandoning weapons and injured FARDC soldiers.
After the bulk of invasion had been successfully completed by the RDF troops and the Rwandan Defense Forces captured Goma, the so-called M23 rebels showed up and made speeches to the population. To hide the presence of thousands of Rwandan troops, official leaders of M23 rebels declared that 2,000 FARDC troops had surrendered, with, curiously, less than 100 AK 47.

Rwandan Defense Forces invasion and RDF Command

M23 rebels are an offshoot of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF). They receive all the technical support, supplies, communications, arms, ammunitions, etc… from Rwanda military and government. Their de facto commander is Rwandan Defense Minister, General James Kabarebe. The overall field commander of the military operations to invade the Democratic Republic of the Congo is General Emmanuel Ruvusha, known for his bloody repression in Kisangani in 2000 when the RDF troops battled the Uganda forces (UPDF). He has also been accused by several human rights organizations for the role he played in the extermination of Rwanda refugees in DRC in 1996-97.

General Paul Kagame Faces High Casualties and Low Morale among Rwandan Defense Forces

Just before the latest operations, the M23 rebels were being stationed at Runyoni training camp at the Rwanda-DRC border. This location was carefully selected since it allowed the traning exercices to take place away from suspecting eyes and to evade the intelligence gathering by the United Nations Mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO. The site also is conveniently located, to maintain the rebel supply routes from Rwanda unhindered.

Initially the RDF troops crossed to Runyoni and mingled with M23 rebels to invade Kibumba. FARDC and MONUSCO, using helicopters and tanks bombed them and killed a large number of the Rwandan Defense Forces troops. The FARDC and MONUSCO also resisted and used heavy weapons during the initial hours of the invasion of Goma, increasing the casualties among Rwandan Defense Forces.
The number of dead Rwandan soldiers seen by AfroAmerica Network sources in Kanombe, Kigali, Gisenyi, and Mukamira military camps is around 100, just for the Goma invasion alone.
According to other sources who are following very closely what is going on on the ground, it appears that the morale of RDF soldiers is very low. Some of the commanders are even openly questioning the usefulness of the military operations.

This has extremely worried Pres. Kagame and his inner circle. Although General Paul Kagame has recently increased the salary of the Republican Guard, his security forces, other troops are poorly, if not, paid. He is worried that he may not have any way to support these troops once they return to Rwanda. In addition, General Paul Kagame was very furious after William Hague, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, joined other members in the International Community to lend credibility to the latest report by the UN Experts on DRC that accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels. The UK government has been one of the staunch supporters of the Rwandan regime since 1994. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the personal adviser to General Paul Kagame.

General Paul Kagame Bowing to International Pressure?

Following the wide condemnation from both regional powers and the International Community, General Paul Kagame has ordered a partial withdrawal of the RDF contingent form Eastern DRC while maintaining a sizable number of troops led by RDF Brigadier General John Gatama.

General Paul Kagame appears to bow to the pressure from the International Community but remains determined to maintain his hold on Eastern DRC. AfroAmerica Network correspondents, other sources and eyewitness accounts corroborate what AfroAmerica Network has all along reported: the Rwandan government and the military, especially Rwandan President General Paul Kagame and his inner circle, are the main sponsor of the M23 rebel group. The Rwandan military officials recruit, train, and ultimately deploy them. Without General Paul Kagame’s support, the M23 would not exist, and less, claim any military successes.

Therefore, how the crisis in the Eastern DRC will be negotiated and the crisis resolved without addressing the issue of General Paul Kagame’s support to such destabilizing forces remains a puzzle.

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