General Sultani Makenga, military leader of the M23 rebels, addresses the media in Bunagana, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, September 8, 2013. Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 insurgents said on Sunday they are ready to return to peace talks and would not make integration into the national army, which has not proved successful in the past, part of the deal. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY HEADSHOT) - RTX13D0O

East of Congo: They are M23, not ADF

It is a new war of the M23 which begins in the east of Congo under the mask “ADF”.  The lie maintained since 2014, when the massacres began, is no longer tenable in view of the accumulation of evidence and testimonies on the ground.  The long-spared sector of Ruwenzori becomes the scene of killings, the death toll of which continues to grow, while the large city of Mutwanga is emptied of the majority of its population.
 From the data collected on the ground and from sources in the region, we can affirm that we are at the dawn of a large-scale security crisis which should affect the two provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, and even  expand towards Kisangani, the country’s third largest city.
 1. False ADF true M23
 In two videos that have made the rounds on social media, we see for the first time a group of attackers in action shouting “Allahu Akbar”.  The scene would take place in Loselose.  However, the analysis of the images ended up betraying the identity of the attackers.  It is plain to see that Allahu Akbar’s cries are only staged, as the men can be heard in the video speaking in a Kinyarwanda accent, a language that the original ADF did not speak.  In another video, a man interviews an FARDC soldier in Lingala, another language that the original ADF did not speak.  Our contacts on the ground tell us that in reality, these are M23 fighters who are establishing themselves in the countryside of Beni and attracting their compatriots there in successive waves.
 A source close to MONUSCO tells us that after the flight of Jamil Mukulu, the leader of the original ADF, in 2014, the government of Kinshasa had undertaken to rearm one of its lieutenants in the person of Seka Baluku, in particular providing him with fighters.  coming from Rwanda, and that there is no difference between the FARDC and these Rwandan forces which pretend to be ADF.  The source speaks of Joseph Kabila in person who is said to be the main sponsor of the killings in Beni.  Another source tells us that the influx of combatants from Rwanda has accelerated in recent weeks from Rutshuru taking the Vitshumbi route into the Semliki valley crossing Lake Edward.  These Rwandan fighters regroup in Mwalika, in the valley of Semliki a Mahigha then continue their progression to occupy the agricultural zones of the peasants, cocoa producers, who are killed or driven from their fields, which the new arrivals reoccupy and exploit.
 A third source tells us that a second route starts from Rwanda towards Masisi and Walikale with the final destination Lubutu on the road to Kisangani and South Lubero.  The objective of this front, associated with the fighters of Guidon Shimiray (NDC-R) is to cut the Butembo-Goma road and economically suffocate the commercial towns of Beni and Butembo from the south, the road to Uganda being already occupied.
 Other forward units are said to have already taken position on the Beni – Kisangani axis via Mambasa.  The purpose of the influx of new fighters from Rwanda is to cut off North Kivu and Ituri from Kisangani, and hamper supplies from Kinshasa.  It was as part of this strategy that a helicopter was shot down in Niania and the two other planes, dispatched to the scene, disappeared.  The presence of the Rwandan army near Goma, denounced in the latest report by UN experts, was aimed at securing these movements of M23 combatants towards the territories of Beni, Lubero and towards the Kisangani axis.
 2. FARDC soldiers, MONUSCO and generalized complicity
 These accelerated deployments of Rwandan forces are taking place with the complicity of ex-CNDP officers who control most of the FARDC units in the region, and who coordinate the influx of ex-M23s.  The confusion within the army is such that it is so far impossible to differentiate between the soldiers who remained loyal to the power of Kinshasa and those who work for the camp of the enemy forces.  Mistrust of the army is such that at least 10 soldiers were killed by the population, who considered them to be enemy forces in Ruwenzori sector.  The mistrust goes further since even MONUSCO is not spared.  Several notables of the territory of Beni squarely demand the departure of the UN force for obvious reasons.  An FARDC officer told us that MONUSCO’s complicity with local armed groups is only an open secret.  He assures us that one day, during a patrol, his unit overheard Indian peacekeepers distributing ammunition to militiamen.  These testimonies are legion.  Already, in 2017, a woman working in an NGO, had published a damning testimony on the presence of Rwandan forces in FARDC uniforms in the triangle of death (Mbau-Kamango-Eringeti) and supplies provided by MONUSCO.  sign-and-witness-an-ex-humanitarian-de-long-merlin / This disorder leads us to conclude that there are three more or less official forces in Beni: the peacekeepers whose credibility is close to zero, the  Rwandan forces who operate in the ranks of the FARDC and soldiers loyal to the power of Kinshasa who are most often sacrificed for lack of understanding the reality of the double game of MONUSCO and their comrades who are, in reality, militias in the service of Rwanda  and Joseph Kabila.
 3. Félix Tshisekedi in all of this?
 All our sources assure us that President Tshisekedi’s ambiguous attitude is not only leading to massacres of civilian populations and the death of FARDC soldiers, but also to accelerate the process of consolidating the grip of Rwandan forces.  on this part of the Congo.  This occupation process, which should lead to the isolation of the Kinshasa region, is led by Joseph Kabila and his lifelong mentor Paul Kagame.  Tshisekedi would have made a serious error in letting Kabila leave Kinshasa and in continuing to regard Kagame as a partner for peace, our sources insist.
 Our sources in Uganda tell us that some key M23 leaders were invited to Kigali earlier this week to obtain further instructions.  Tshisekedi’s other mistake was therefore to offer an amnesty to M23 members when he could have demanded their arrest.
 Regaining control of the east will be very difficult since, for lack of roads, the planes of the official Kinshasa delegations are now exposed to the risk of being shot down, which will have the effect of discouraging attempts by Kinshasa to impose its authority in  that part of the country.
 4. The solutions?
 The power of Tshisekedi does not seem to understand the crisis in the east in general, in Beni in particular.  It is a crisis marked by complicity both within the FARDC army and within MONUSCO.  Among the proposed solutions is the deployment in Beni of an autonomous force capable of operating without betrayal in the ranks of the FARDC and MONUSCO.  Another solution proposed by our contacts on the ground is to move away from all FARDC units operating in Beni and limit collaboration with MONUSCO.  Particular emphasis must be placed on intelligence in order to identify and dismantle networks of complicity with the enemy, both within the ranks of the FARDC and MONUSCO.  Also consider organizing flagrant trials to make people talk about suspects who, too often, disappear during prison breaks or are released into the wild by order of who knows who.
 Eric Tsongo
 ©️ Beni-Lubero Online.

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