The New Times (Kigali)

20 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Goma Returns to Normal As M23 Take Charge

Rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have captured the regional capital, Goma. According to the government, the fighters are backed by ... ( Resource: DR Congo Rebels Take Control of Goma

The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) city of Goma is slowly returning to normal following its capture by M23 rebels last evening.

The rebel movement announced the capture of the North Kivu Province capital after minimum resistance from the government forces.

In an interview with The New Times, the movement's spokesman, Col. Jean Marie Vianney Kazarama, said that his force was now contemplating whether or not to advance on to Sake town, about 30 km outside of Bukavu.

"We still have a lot of work but I can now confirm that the entire Goma is under the control of the revolutionary army, M23. We have captured it and its now under our control," he said.

Kazarama said that the Provincial Governor, Julien Paluku, and his administration, had fled west towards the town of Bukavu.

The fall of Goma was preceded yesterday morning by fighting between the Congolese army supported by MONUSCO, the UN Mission for the Stabilisation of Congo, which has been accused of taking sides and ignoring their prime mandate of protecting civilians.

The rebels proceeded to capture the airport and expanded their positions around the regional parliamentary building.

According to eye witness accounts, the UN force, which stayed put as the rebels advanced on Goma, did not resist and The New Times' reporter watched as rebels marched past UN armoured vehicles.

UN chief, Ban Ki-moon said peacekeepers will stay in Goma.

The United Nations has about 6,700 soldiers in North Kivu.

Initially, the rebels' advance triggered panic among residents with many fleeing into Rwanda.

However by press time the situation was slowly returning to normal.

Earlier during the day, public transport fares from Rubavu town to Kigali went up to Rwf10,000 from 3,000, due to an influx of passengers fleeing the area as a result of fear and panic.

But after news of the rebels having advanced to the capital Goma, everything returned to normal and residents returned to their homes.

In several suburbs such as Birere, residents were celebrating the arrival of M23.

The New Times has established that UN forces' military hardware has been relocated to Bukavu.

A few UN support staff was still at Goma Airport with most having moved to Bukavu.

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