DRC: Heavy fighting between national army and M23 rebels

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Friday, 27 May 2022 16:26

United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeepers are seen with civilians as they patrol areas affected by the recent attacks by M23 rebels fighters near Rangira in North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 29, 2022. REUTERS/Djaffar Sabiti

On 26 May, heavy fighting occurred between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels in the most sustained offensive since the 2012-2013 insurrection that overtook the city of Goma, which has a population of over one million people.

In 2012, the M23 captured Goma before they were chased out by the combined forces of the Congolese army and the UN to Rwanda and Uganda the following year.

On Sunday 22 May, the UN denounced a ‘deliberate’ M23 attack on peacekeepers and armed forces.

On 25 May, the Congolese government once again accused neighbouring Rwanda of supporting M23. “Suspicions are crystallising that the M23 has received support from Rwanda,” the DRC spokesman Patrick Muyaya said on Wednesday.

“We can confirm without fear of being contradicted that it is Rwanda that is supporting the M23 for the moment…,” a member of local civil society, Ghislain Bolingo, told reporters.

However, Rwanda says the conflict is just within the DRC, and that they are not involved. The country has, however, accused the Congolese army and FDLR of shelling Rwandan territory on 19 March and 23 May, claiming several civilians were injured. It has asked regional monitors to investigate.

Although the Congolese army has now managed to recapture its base in Rumangabo, the M23 is still in control in much of the surrounding areas, according to Emmanuel de Merode, the director of the Virunga National Park.

He also told Reuters that there was heavy fighting overnight (25-6 May) around Kibumba, a town 20km northeast of Goma, near the Rwandan border.

Who are the M23 rebels?

The Mouvement de 23 Mars (March 23 movement) M23 insurgency, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary army, can be traced back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The group’s leadership is made up of members of the Tutsi ethnic group who say their aim is to fight against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a militia founded by Hutus who fled Rwanda following their involvement in human rights atrocities against the Tutsis.

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