Enough Project Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Carine Umuhumuza
Congo’s National Army and M23 Rebel Group, Most Powerful Armed Actors in Eastern Congo
GOMA – The M23 rebel group and the Congolese national army – currently the two most powerful armed actors in eastern Congo – pursue their interests through a set of relationships with other armed groups, reveals a new Enough Project infographic and accompanying table. A field dispatch further documents recent clashes between the Congolese military and the M23 rebel group.
The infographic illustrates the strength and nature of the relationships between the Congolese army, the M23 rebels and their feuding alliances. The accompanying table provides detailed information about these groups, including their histories, leadership, composition, and other notable features. The research reveals that interaction among groups is often to support economic and political interests, often at the cost of human life.
Enough Project Field Researcher Fidel Bafilemba states:
“The number of senior defectors from the Congolese army who now head armed groups and their complex web of relationships only exemplifies the perversity of the Congolese security system, and the genuine political commitment it will require for its reform as Congo aspires to have sustainable peace.”
The field dispatch, “The Recent Fighting in Eastern Congo and Its Implications for Peace” documents recent clashes between the Congolese military and the M23 rebel group from July 14 – 26, stating that fighting was at the worst it’s been since M23 temporarily occupied Goma, eastern Congo last November. The report is based on Enough Project Researcher Timo Mueller’s eyewitness account at the frontlines during the first days of fighting in Mutaho, a few kilometers north of Goma, where fighting was heavy until moving onto M23-held territory.
Amid the fighting, talks between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the M23 rebels have stalled in neighboring Uganda. Over the course of the last seven months, the warring parties have employed militaristic bluster, as well as traded fierce accusations of foul play as a means of furthering narrow political agendas. The resumption of fighting on July 14 suggests that the Congolese government has been trying to influence its bargaining position at the talks through military gains on the battlefield.
Enough Project Field Researcher Timo Mueller states:
“If the army could manage to hurt M23 badly enough—short of a military defeat—the movement might be willing to make concessions in Kampala and provide the least politically damaging exit strategy for Rwanda, an alleged supporter of M23. Uganda, on the other hand, could present itself as a successful mediator to the crisis after it was accused last year of supporting M23.”
As a response to increased fighting, the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission, the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUSCO, put all of its agencies on high alert, stating that they are prepared to use “lethal force” to protect civilians. Mueller writes: “The latest escalation takes place against a growing militarization of the peacekeeping mission, which later may join the army in fighting M23.”
The report warns that active, open conflict presents a wide range of problems for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, or U.N. PSCF, as parties continue to trade accusations and delay agreements. Continued violence in the region between M23 and the army has already displaced thousands of civilians, and resulted in the death of civilians, Congolese army soldiers and M23 rebels.
Read the field dispatch, “Field Dispatch: The Recent Fighting in Eastern Congo and Its Implications for Peace”: http://enoughproject.org/files/FightingEasternCongoImplicationsforPeace.pdf
View or download the infographic,“The Networks of Eastern Congo’s Two Most Powerful Armed Actors”: http://enoughproject.org/videos/infographic-networks-eastern-congos-two-most-powerful-armed-actors
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.