23 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Talks Unavoidable in Eastern Congo

Photo: Eddie Ssejjoba/New Vision
DRC President Joseph Kabila, left, with South Sudan minister of commerce and investments, Garanga Dung Akwang in Kampala.


THE M23 rebel group has captured the eastern city of Goma in Congo. Their leader Sultani Makenga now wants to 'liberate' the whole of Congo. Probably they just want to capture Bukavu and set up a breakaway state.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila said yesterday in Kampala that he is willing to listen to the grievances of the the rebels. Rwanda and Uganda, accused by the UN of supporting M23, have called on the rebels to halt their advance.

UN troops allowed M23 soldiers to enter Goma after the Congolese army retreated. There are 19,000 UN peacekeepers in Congo yet they could not protect Goma. Realistically a military force cannot expel M23 in the near future.

M23 are not nice people. Their former leader Bosco Ntaganda has already been indicted by the ICC for war crimes. There are reports of summary executions in their advance on Goma.

Nevertheless M23 cannot be wished away. They are well armed and provisioned In the short term, there should be roundtable talks, involving Rwanda, Uganda and Kinshasa, to find a negotiated solution.

In the medium term, the AU and international donors need to strengthen the Congolese army to protect the country's territorial integrity.

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