Crisis in the Congo

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Kampala Talks and Nairobi Declarations
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Nairobi, Kenya

DRC Government declaration:
Click here to download!
M23 Declaration:
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ICGLR & SADC Declaration:
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See below news & analysis and resolutions & statements for global reaction to the peace deal

UN Group of Experts Reports
Q & A (Basics of current conflict)
Statements and Resolutions
News and Analysis
Report Highlights
Congolese Civil Society Response

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Q & A
1. What triggered the latest conflict?
The conflict was triggered when a couple hundred National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) soldiers deserted from the Congolese military after the President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila announced that he planned to arrest their leader Bosco Ntaganda. Also, in an attempt to breakup the parallel command structure within the Congolese military, the DRC government initiated a program to relocate soldiers who made up the CNDP to different parts of the country away from their home base in eastern Congo.As a result of these two above noted factors, CNDP soldiers within the Congolese military deserted and subsequently formed the M23.

2. Who is the M23?
Steve Hege, the lead researcher of the UN Group of Experts said "the M23 is a Rwandan creation." The M23 is a made up of former CNDP soldiers within the Congolese military. They took their name from the March 23, 2009 peace accord between the CNDP and the Congolese government, which resulted in the CNDP being integrated into the Congolese military with their chain of command in tact. The M23 claims that they initiated the rebellion because elements of the March 23, 2009 accord remain unfulfilled. They include better pay, higher level appointments and better treatment.

The leader of the M23 is Sultani Makenga who was recently placed on a sanctions list by the United States and the United Nations. Although the M23 claim they are operating on their own, the United Nations, the Congolese government, Human Rights Watch and local Congolese civil society organizations have provided substantial evidence that both Rwanda and Uganda are backing the M23 in the form of arms, training, equipment, intelligence, soldiers, logistics and directing of overall operations. Rwanda is by far the major backer of the M23.

3. What are the demands of the M23?
Although suspect, the central demand of the M23 is that the government implement the March 23, 2009 agreement.

4. What outside forces are backing the M23 if any?
An initial report in June 2012 documented that Rwanda was backing the M23 through training, recruitment, provisions of weapons and financial resources. The most recent November 21st report by the United Nations elaborated on Rwanda's involvement by noting that the M23 rebels were being directed by the Rwandan Chief of Defense, James Kabarebe. In addition, the report stated that Uganda is also backing the M23.

5. Why does Rwanda back the M23?
Rwanda has secured its political, economic and security interests in eastern Congo since they first invaded in 1996 via a series of proxy rebel groups (AFDL, RCD, CNDP, M23) that they have created and controlled. The M23 is the most recent among the Rwandan proxy militia in the DRC.

6. Does M23 have popular support among the people?
No they do not have any mass appeal among the people. In the areas they have captured, they have committed sexual violence, executions and recruited child soldiers.

7. Has the International Community taken any action to end the conflict?
In late June the United States withheld a symbolic amount ($200,00) of military aid from Rwanda. As a result of the U.S. taking the lead, a number of other nations followed suit and either withheld or delayed aid to Rwanda in an attempt to hold Rwanda accountable for its support of rebels committing war crimes in the DRC.  However, the UN Security Council has failed to sanction Rwanda or top Rwandan officials for backing the M23. A number of media outlets have reported that US Ambassador to the UN has been blocking tough action against Rwanda.

8. Has the African Union taken any action to end the conflict?
The African Union has issued statements and supported the mediation process at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) - a collection of 11 African states, nine of which border the Congo except Kenya.

9. What has been the response of the Congolese people?
The Congolese people for the most part have been outraged. They are tired of the on-going conflict. They have been very critical of their own government, the United Nations Mission in the Congo, the United Nations Security Council and its member states, and of course Rwanda and Uganda. On November 20th, students in a number of cities rose up to burn down UN and government facilities in response to the major eastern city of Goma being taken by rebel leaders.

10. Since March the M23 rebels have captured a number of cities, what is the significance of their capturing the city of Goma?
Goma is a city with about one million people, the largest in the east. It is the economic and trading hub of the east that serves as a gateway to Rwanda. It is the site of the largest contingent of UN troops (6,700). Goma was seen as a no-go zone for the rebels. In 2008 the parent group of M23; the CNDP had threatened to capture Goma but the international community stepped in and put pressure on Rwanda to prevent the CNDP from trying to capture Goma. Now that the M23 have captured Goma, it has emboldened them to go after other large cities and they have indicated that they will eventually march west 2,000 miles to Kinshasa. This is not likely to happen.

11. What is best the way out of the conflict?
The conflict is very complex, however there are some basic steps that can be taken to increase the prospects for lasting solutions. It is vital that the international community hold Rwanda and Uganda to account for their sixteen-year long destructive intervention in the DRC. Unless this is done, the national and local drivers of the conflict will not get a chance to be addressed. Secondly, the illicit network maintained in the east of DRC by the Rwandan regime must be dismantled. Without the break-up of this network, peace and stability will be fleeting. Ultimately, a legitimate Congo government is needed to engender the confidence of the Congolese people, exercise control over its entire territory and protect the interests of the people. Anything short of this condition such as security sector reform and training of Congolese soldiers will not deliver peace and lasting stability.