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DRC-Rwanda: Colonel Sultani Makenga, the Controversial Rwandan Proxy Warlord in DRC, is Back

Colonel Sultani Makenga and Runiga in Bunagana in 2013

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According to AfroAmerica Network sources within the Congo Desk in Kigali, Rwanda and in the region bordering the DRC, Rwandan special forces wearing M23 uniforms have increased military operations, putting pressure on DRC troops, FARDC, and targeting civilans.   However, as the attacks and killings by M23 and FARDC military operations continue, a major surprising event has happened: the coming back of Gen Sultani Makenga, one of the leaders of Rwandan proxy Congolese rebels created in eary 2010s. The apparition of Gen Sultani Makenga,  presumed dead until recently, appears to augur new dynamics within M23 rebels. 

In the last actions, a grenade explosion on April 7, 2022 by a person in military uniform in a bar inside the FARDC  camp of Katindo, Goma, North Kivu, Eastern DRC has killed more than 6 people and injured  15. The grenade explosion and the sudden appearance of Gen Sultani Makenga appeared puzzling, according to sources in the region.

Gen Sultani Makenga, mostly  unknown until 2012, is  one of the creations of the Rwandan dictator and military junta commander, General Paul Kagame and has served as one of his proxy warlords in the DRC. He became prominent when the other warlords faced international condemnations (see here: Colonel Makenga: the New Rwandan Proxy Warlord in DRC).

These warlords and their militias have been extensions of the Rwandan Defense Forces. Their job has been to make sure that the Congolese natural resources continue to flow to Rwanda and enrich the coffers of the small clique of cronies around the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame. 

On Friday February 22, 2013,  Gen Sultani Makenga, then the  commander of congolese rebels known as M23, escaped an assassination attempt. According to AfroAmerica sources, the assassination attempt was a result of the  dissensions within M23 rebels and the work of the de facto commander of the M23 rebels, General Bosco Ntaganda. General Bosco Ntaganda, then still wanted by the International Criminal court (ICC), had continued to command M23 rebels in the shadow and to represent the interests of the Rwandan Military and political leaders. General Sultani Makenga was viewed as a straw man and the Congolese face of M23 rebels (see here M23 General Sultani Makenga Escapes Assassination Attempt).  Gen Sultani Makenga was accused of opposing the political leader Jean-Marie Lugerero Runiga to split M23 rebels.  Eventually Jean-Marie Lugerero Runiga fled to Rwanda where he has been living under the protection of the Rwandan givernment  and still leading M23 rebels. 

According to AfroAmerica Network sources with the Congo desk within the Rwandan Defense Forces,  the return of Gen Sultani Makenga, who, until recently, was rumored to be dead, is a new sign of growing dissensions with M23 rebels. However other sources have rather pointed to a nother component of the complex and strategic approach of the invasion of Eastern DRC by Rwandan troops.

In fact, as the return of Gen Sultani Makenga was being publicized in social  and other media, it was mentionned that he is the leader of a new group or a brand of M23  called  Armées Revolutionaires Congolaises (ARC).

Meanwhile, Rwandan special forces in  M23 uniforms have been reorganizing for more attacks after some operations failed following the reinforcoemnt of FARDC troops by Ugandan Defense Forces (UDF). They have also increased their propaganda of blaming Rwandan rebels of the FDLR,  RUD-Urunana, and RPR-Inkeragutabara of starting  and being part of the conflict, in collaboration of FARDC troops. 

AfroAmerica Network will continue to follow and update as the details become available and are checked.


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