Sunday, October 27, 2013

DR Congo: M23 is it over ?

Radio Okapi reports  ( Translated from French by some translation service and cleaned up by me, all mistakes are mine )

North Kivu: after Kibumba FARDC recover locality Kiwanja

After Kibumba, the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) retook on Sunday 27 October, the town of Kiwanja, located 70 km north of Goma (North Kivu). The governor of North Kivu, Julien Paluku Kahongya delivered information.
According to sources on the ground, people have welcomed the FARDC with joy and prepared festivities immediately, after about a year of rebel occupation.
Having watched the Congo DRC News website over the last few days, a M23 site that has been reporting on the military successes of M23 with a regularity that would be impressive if it wasn't all fiction, I would have to say that surely after this defeat M23 must be finished. 
The population of Kiwanja indicates that in the last hours of fighting, the M23 rebels fought in civilian clothes before retiring to 9 pm local time to Bunagana, a border post with Uganda.
Switching to civilian clothes is a fairly good indicator that things are going badly and retreating across an international border is also a last resort tactic. Interestingly Congo DRC News has an explanation for the happenings in Kiwanja. It is in French, translation is by Google Translate.
" Criminal organizations around the governor Julien PALUKU distributed weapons to civilians without training, which explains several shootings littered with automatic weapons ....

Go therefore understand that the weapons fell into the hands of large segments of the civilian population, which may include undisciplined groups , bandits or individuals with an uncertain sanity.

Faced with this cacophony two questions come to mind :

1 - how to differentiate between these bandits ( armed civilian clothes ) and peaceful civilians ? ?

2 - How to effectively launch an offensive in the strict observance of international humanitarian law? ? ?

Note: To prevent an avalanche of murders of ethnic and thus stop the wave of civil unrest caused by these agents of death an option was exercised by the President of the M23 . .

The M23 has withdrawn from kiwanja

Jean Kasereka M23 "

I haven't bothered to clean this up its meaning is clear. 

The governor of North Kivu confirmed the recovery Kiwanja and indicated that regular forces are endeavoring to clean up the area to ensure that there are no rebels hidden among the population.
The population is still awaiting the end of the search operation before the real celebrations begin, say several sources in the region.
As well they might. It should be remembered that M23 have used the areas they occupied as a feudal territory extorting massive " taxes " from the local population along with the other far more serious crimes they inflicted, such as murder and rape.   
The fighting between the FARDC and the M23 resumed  on Friday early in the morning at Kibumba. These are the most violent clashes since last August. The fighting took place while the Kampala talks between the Congolese government and the rebels were suspended.
As I blogged a couple of days ago this was the outcome I think Kampala wanted and if my take on this is correct the peace talks are over as M23 seems to have been defeated in the field. It may be that this Rwandan inspired insurrection in the DR Congo has come to an end.
For his part, at the head office of MONUSCO North Kivu, Ray Torres, warned the M23 rebels to show the utmost restraint and especially not to target civilians fleeing the fighting from Kibumba because incidents like this will not be tolerated.
It is very important that the M23 knows that it is obligated to respect human life this applies at all times especially in battles, "said Ray Torres. He added that MONUSCO trucks are currently evacuating people in areas near the front line.
If M23 have crossed into Uganda at Bunagana then it is over ( yes that is a very big call...) and I can see no reason for them to retreat there other than to seek safety in Uganda. Given the hundreds of thousands of civilians that the M23 depredations have forced to seek shelter in Uganda there is an irony to this. I hope Uganda disarms them and hands the leaders over to the ICC.

Hat Tip: Charly Kasereka 

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