Africa

Rwanda-backed M23

Congo rebels warn SADC intervention force that they are ready to fight

Congo rebels warn SADC intervention force that they are ready to fight
A group of M23 rebel fighters sit on a pickup truck as they prepare to leave the city, in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, 01 December 2012. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

South African, Malawian and Tanzanian forces deployed in eastern DRC last month

A Congolese military and political alliance which includes the Rwanda-backed M23 armed rebels has warned Southern African troops just deployed in the Congo against them that it is ready to fight.

South African, Tanzanian and Malawian troops started arriving in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 15 December on a mission ordered by the the Southern African Development Community

The goal of the SADC Mission in DRC (SAMIDRC) is to try to restore peace to the eastern territory which has been rocked by violence between countless armed groups and the DRC military.

SAMIDRC’s main target is the M23 which has been rapidly expanding its territory in eastern DRC since 2021. DRC President Felix Tshisekedi – who has just been re-elected to a second term – has accused Rwanda of actively supporting the largely ethnic-Tutsi M23.

Rwanda has denied this but the UN group of experts on DRC has corroborated the DRC ‘s accusation. DRC is a member of SADC and last  year SADC leaders agreed to Tshisekedi’s appeal to them to deploy an intervention force.

SADC spokesperson Barbara Lopi confirmed to Daily Maverick that “SAMIDRC was deployed on 15 December; a SADC regional force from Republic of Malawi, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania and elements of the DRC Armed Forces are on the ground working with Congolese Army.”

On the same day as SADC deployed, the M23 and other rebel groups and political parties met in Nairobi to establish the Alliance Fleuve Congo (AFC) – Congo River Alliance – under the leadership of Corneille Nangaa, a former head of the DRC’s national electoral commission.

The AFC said its aim was to restore order to the war torn eastern DRC which Tshisekedi’s government had so far failed to do.

On Tuesday this week, the AFC warned in a statement responding to the deployment of SAMIDRC that it was ready to fight for democracy.

“The Congo River Alliance (AFC) urges SADC member countries to align themselves with the Congolese people who have vehemently disavowed President Félix Tshisekedi through the elections of December 20, 2023,” it said.

“SADC troops should refrain from trusting an irresponsible leader, without personality and disrespectful of his own commitments,” it said. The AFC said Tshisekedi had upset and betrayed the eight states of the East African Community (EAC) by “arbitrarily dismissing its peacekeeping from eastern DRC”. They pulled out last month.

The AFC also noted that the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco was getting ready to leave “although it has played a historic role in stabilizing the country since the first political transition in 2004.

“In this regard, the Republic of South Africa (RSA), a friendly country to the DRC, will forever remain a partner for peace and stability in the logic of democratic renewal.”

However the AFC also warned that it had seasoned troops “with perfect command  of the terrain who are ready to fight for the democracy confiscated by Tshisekedi”.

The AFC said its forces had always defeated the DRC army, causing numerous casualties among the troops of the government coalition which included Burundian troops and armed rebel groups, particularly the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and the Forces du Progres.

“Hence, we reassure the SADC and its armed forces of our awareness and our determination to put an end to the Tshisekedi regime once and for all.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Confucious Says says:

    Yet we still have the intellectual capacity and experience deep within SA to stamp the rebels out quick quick!

  • Jean Racine says:

    What rubbish! Fabricius has not once given his readers the SADC perspective, but quotes extensively from a rebel press conference.
    Same noises M23 made in 2013, before getting their clocks cleaned.
    Your slip is showing, Mr Stenographer!

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