Congo Rebels To Topple Kabila In 60 Days
The M23 rebel group in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, believed to enjoy the backing of Rwanda, have vowed to topple President Joseph Kabila in two months.
Speaking on Sunday in Bunagana, two days after the capture of the important mineral transit town, the M23 leader, Sultani Makenga said they are advancing steadily to Kinshasa and would oust the government of Joseph Kabila in the next 60 days.
His claim has been independently confirmed by Ugandan security sources familiar with the goings-on in Congo. These Ugandan intelligence sources have told us the M23 is so strong and heavily backed, it should be able to take power in Kinshasa within months – if the situation remains the way it is.
This could be a case of history repeating itself as Laurent Kabila, Joseph Kabila's father who was assassinated by his own body guard led his little-known guerrilla movement to launch a seven-month campaign that ousted Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997, ending one of the world's most corrupt and megalomaniacal regimes.
In a dramatic turn of events, just days after the United Nations issued a report linking the operations of the M23 rebels to Kigali, hoping to cut the alleged ties, the rebels seem to have grown even more confident to advance to take over Kinshasa.
However, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, has vehemently dismissed claims that Kigali has strong links with the M23 rebels, saying the UN and her sister agencies are malicious on Rwanda.
A day after the capture of Bunagana, the rebels advanced to capture Rutshuru from the government forces on Sunday, further embarrassing the UN-backed army.
Sources said the capture of Rutshuru opens the way for a possible rebel advance on Goma, the provincial capital, about 70km (43 miles) to the south.
The gains for the M23 rebel movement in volatile, mineral-rich North Kivu Province risk dragging the vast, loosely governed Central African state back into war.
They could also damage fragile relations with neighbouring Rwanda, which has repeatedly denied allegations that M23 rebels are receiving support from Kigali military officials.
The M23 insurgents, mostly Congolese Tutsis, many of them army mutineers, take their name from a March 2009 peace deal that ended a previous rebellion in North Kivu, but which the rebels say has been broken.
Like the larger eastern rebellion from 2004 to 2009, the current mutiny has its roots in ethnic and political wounds dating back to Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Later, invasions of Congo by Rwandan forces and Kigali's backing of Congolese rebels fuelled two successive wars that killed several million people.
Sources said well armed foreign soldiers under the cover of M23 rebels have started their 2,000-mile long march to Kinshasa.
According to Afro-America Network, a blog on social, economical, political and other events in the Great Lakes of Africa, the order to march on Kinshasa was given on June 30, 2012 in a meeting attended by ex-CNDP Commander, Gen. Laurent Nkunda and Rwandan top military leaders.
The march started on July 1, 2012 when the last unit of close to 3,000 Rwandan troops crossed the border into the Democratic Repuplic of Congo (DRC) on the night of June 30 to reinforce 2,000 troops already supporting M23.
Gen. Nkunda turned down the offer to lead the rebellion. Sources say during several meetings held in the weeks before, Rwanda once again asked Nkunda to lead the rebellion. Kigali expressed its displeasure to work with Gen. Bosco Ntaganda.
This was pegged on the recent UN Security Council resolution adjoining all the countries in the region to stop supporting Bosco Ntaganda, a Congolese renegade General who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Rwanda leadership was also said not to trust Col. Sultani Makenga, who was born and raised in the Congo, and hence appears to have no emotional attachment to Rwanda.
Ntaganda continued to reject the offer arguing that he has been away from his troops for too long and insisted on keeping Col. Makenga and reassuring others that he will keep Col. Makenga in check.
Nkunda has been officially under house arrest in Rwanda since January 2009, following the international condemnation of Rwanda for supporting him in a bloody uprising.
But the reality is that he has never been under any arrest and was only forbidden from crossing. He and Ntaganda are involved in the exploitation of Congolese minerals, timber, oil and real estate businesses.
Plan For Invasion And Occupation
Investigations by Afro-America Network, point to an elaborate plan with multiple actors in the Rwandan forces top brass. The main actors are:
M23-CNDP that represent the Congolese ethnic Tutsis under the command of Gen. Laurent Nkunda, Gen. Bosco Ntaganda and Col. Makenga in the Eastern Congo and Congolese Police Chief, Gen. Bisengimana as a fifth column in Western DRC, especially the capital Kinshasa,
PARECO-APLCS, mostly Nande under the command of Gen. Kakulu Sikuli Vasaka Lafontaine and former Foreign Affairs Minister Mbusa Nyamwisi, PARECO mostly Hutu, under the command of Colonel Akilimali and ethnic Hema, under the Command of Col. Kahasha.
Other troops, mostly from Katanga, under the command of disgraced former DRC Police Chief Gen. Numbi, a confidante to Rwandan Defence Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe.
The plan is first to put in place a national cover for a Rwandan led rebellion. Once the cover is well recognised, M23 will officially remain in the Kivus, while other factions will continue the march to Kinshasa to overthrow Joseph Kabila and install a Congolese politician amenable to the Rwandan cause and interests.
In order to be re-elected, Kabila promised several things to Rwanda top Generals in return for his support in the Kivu. Unfortunately for Joseph Kabila, he promised a lot and delivered little. Hence, as usual, in this case he delivered very little once he was elected:
First he promised to keep the Tutsis within FARDC key posts of leadership and maintain them in the Eastern DRC.
Second, he promised to never attempt to arrest Gen. Bosco Ntaganda.
Soon after the elections, under the pressure from the International community and to appease the radical Congolese who are angry with the Rwandan influence in Congolese politics, Kabila decided to move the Tutsis within FARDC to other regions of the DRC and officially declared his intention to arrest the renegade General, Bosco Ntaganda.
Once Rwanda came to the realisation that Kabila was about to get the renegade Gen. Ntaganda arrested and then transferred to the ICC, he became furious and dispatched Rwandan special forces to be the first ones that would get close to the fugitive General. This operation served mainly two purposes:
To prevent any unreliable/unfriendly forces in the eyes of Kagame to arrest Gen. Ntaganda since the Rwandan President does not want him to "spill the beans and/or talk" about all the support the latter has been getting from Rwanda.
In case of sustained scrutiny and denunciation by the International community, then the renegade General, Ntaganda would be eliminated by RDF operatives and his death would be reported to the world as a war casualty.
Simultaneously, Rwandan military leaders prepared a mutiny, that came to be M23 with the aim of regrouping all the Congolese troops loyal to Gen. Paul Kagame. Even then, Kagame wanted Nkunda to lead the rebellion but he hesitated.
He later confided to close family members that he was afraid he would end up seeing a bullet in the head, once Kagame finds another suitable replacement. Afro-America Network reported that Gen. Nkunda turned down the offer, Paul Kagames's services asked him to convince Makenga to create and head the M23 group. In return, Makenga was promised full cooperation and support from the Rwanda security services.
Kabila Vs Kagame
A palpable sentiment is emerging in top circles from both Kigali and Kinshasa: Joseph Kabila's days as President of the DRC are numbered.
Rwanda is determined to remove him from power and Kabila has no power to stop this. Even the United Nations, represented by MONUSCO appears powerless.
After the order to march to Kinshasa was given, M23 quickly seized on July 3, 2012, the strategic town of Bunagana. Simultaneously, and General Lafontaine and Colonel Kahasha's troops seized the strategic supply hubs of Lubero, Kasiki and Mbwavinywa.
These two operational successes by the rebels left the town of Rutshuru, which serves as a junction between the Capital Goma, the northern major towns of Beni and Butembo and the Eastern supply routes from Rwanda and Uganda, under siege. FARDC commanders along with 600 troops fled to Uganda abandoning weapons, tanks and military trucks. Most of the soldiers even removed their uniforms before fleeing to Uganda.
On July 8, 2012, M23 seized the towns of Rubare and Ntamugenga, situated on the axis between Goma and Rutshuru, thus completely isolating Rutshuru. Sources within M23 and Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) told Afro-America Network that in the next days, they will move towards Masisi, Goma and Walikale. General Lafontaine's and Colonel Kahasha's troops are already moving towards the towns of Butembo and Beni to make a junction with the troops led by Col. Akilimali.
Then the troops will move westward to meet in the major town of Kisangani, before continuing on to Kinshasa.
Effects Of War
Uganda Red Cross Society Communications Officer, Catherine Ntabadde yesterday said they have doubled their volunteers to 50 at Nyakabande Transit Centre and Bunagana border following an increase in the number of Congolese refugees. Yesterday, 241 refugees were registered by URCS and UNHCR.
As of July 9, Nyakabande Transit Centre had 16, 270 registered refugees. Government and UNHCR are organising to transfer the refugees to Rwamwanja refugee settlement.
URCS Secretary General, Michael Richard Nataka notes that since July 5, the number of refugees that are crossing into the country from DRC has steadily increased.
One million Congolese could be displaced from North Kivu, according to AFP news agency.
In 2008, at least 45,000 people fled a refugee camp in Goma, a provincial capital in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo due to panick by the advance of rebel fighters.
Witnesses reported hearing gunfire in Goma as members of Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (NCDP) moved closer to the city and government troops retreated south.
As the civilians packed what little goods they had and set off on foot, the NCDP declared a unilateral ceasefire, saying it was "to avoid panicking for the population of Goma".
However, Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that, "the whole camp was packing up and leaving".