Meanwile in the Congo conflict: Rebels set sights on capital Kinshasa
Congo conflict: Rebels set sights on capital Kinshasa
Published on Wednesday November 21, 2012
By Olivia WardForeign Affairs Reporter
Turning a new and bloody page in Congo’s tragic history, the increasingly muscular M23 rebel group said Wednesday that after taking the main eastern city of Goma, it was prepared to capture the capital of Kinshasa and overthrow the government in a military coup.
‘We will go to Kinshasa, we will unite the country,’ the group’s military spokesman Col. Vianney Kazarama told a cheering crowd of civilians, police and government soldiers in Goma just one day after UN peacekeepers held their fire and watched the city fall, and Congolese troops fled for their lives.
Kazarama later softened his stand, according to the Guardian, saying that the rebels would take the capital ‘if people invite us. We obey the people.’
But the rebels’ recruitment efforts were in overdrive, and by the end of the day, starving, scantily paid Congolese government troops had swelled M23 ranks by nearly 3,000 defecting soldiers.
Rwanda is a mainstay of the rebels’ success, said a damning UN report tabled Wednesday. Written by a group of experts, it exhaustively documents how the thousands-strong M23 militia morphed from a small band of Congolese army defectors just eight months ago, to a sophisticated, well-armed and virtually unstoppable force that dominates Africa’s Great Lakes region.
The report said Rwanda had violated an arms embargo ‘by providing direct military support to the M23 rebels, facilitating recruitment, encouraging and facilitating desertions from the armed forces of (Congo) and providing arms, ammunition, intelligence and political advice.’
And in the most serious allegations of Rwandan involvement yet, it said that the ‘de facto chain of command’ for the rebels ‘culminates with the Minister of Defence of Rwanda, Gen. James Kabarebe.’