DRC and M23 insurgents: UN report specifies the role of Rwanda (ADF and FDLR)

DRC and M23 insurgents: UN report specifies the role of Rwanda (ADF and FDLR)

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is finding support from the United Nations (UN) report concerning the role of Rwanda in the M23 militia. Hence, with the East African Community (EAC) bloc of nations supporting the DRC, along with the recent military reinforcements by Kenya under the auspices of the EAC, the nation of Rwanda is looking more isolated related to the M23 militia. 

France 24 reports, “According to the UN experts’ report, Rwanda’s military intervened to “reinforce” the M23 as well as to combat the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) — a descendant of Rwandan Hutu extremist groups that carried out the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.”

This report by UN experts openly mentions the role of Rwanda in backing M23 insurgents against DRC government forces – and backing the M23 to combat the Hutu militia of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. 

The Tutsi-dominated militia of the M23 naturally finds an ally in Rwanda irrespective if directly or utilized via a proxy force to attack the FDLR. At the same time, the M23 furthers the geopolitical intrigues of Rwanda when required. Hutu and Tutsi ethnic tensions have hindered Burundi and Rwanda for many decades at various times. Therefore, this ethnic tension spills over into the DRC and fuses with regional dynamics. 

The UN report said military reinforcements from Rwanda boosted the M23 militia “for specific operations, in particular when these were aimed at seizing strategic towns and areas.”

The International Crisis Group said, “The latest upheaval in North Kivu has a significant regional dimension, with enmity between Kinshasa and Kigali at its center. On coming to power in 2019, Tshisekedi attempted a rapprochement with Kigali, which many Congolese partly blame for years of bloodletting, but whose influence is needed to bring stability to the country’s troubled east. As Crisis Group has previously described, Tshisekedi’s efforts at mending relations with Rwanda were stymied in 2021, when he drew closer to Uganda to seek its support in fighting the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a murderous, mainly Ugandan militant group wreaking havoc in neighboring Ituri province.”

The International Crisis Group continues, “The move irked Kigali, which saw itself being deprived of influence in the eastern DRC, where it has significant economic interests and has long fought insurgents of the National Liberation Front of Rwanda (known by the French acronym, FDLR), a remnant of the militia responsible for the 1994 genocide. The FDLR predominantly comprises Hutus – the majority group in Rwanda – and is vehemently opposed to the Rwandan leadership headed by President Paul Kagame. Rwanda was doubly angered when Burundian troops also entered the DRC, with Kinshasa’s tacit approval, to tackle insurgents who aim to topple the government in Bujumbura.”

The BBC says, “Burundian soldiers are currently based at Luberezi near Bukavu in South Kivu. The Kenyan contingent will be stationed near Goma in North Kivu and will command the East African Community Regional Force.”

The DRC and the EAC face an uphill struggle to defeat the various insurgencies, terrorist groups, and cross-border forces that blight eastern areas of this country.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and the EAC need to contain the crisis and stop the spread of further regional convulsions. Other important areas include stemming the Islamist militia of the Allied Democratic Forces that emanates from Uganda but mainly kills in the DRC. 

Stéphane Dujarric de la Rivière, the Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, said the UN was “concerned over the deteriorating security situation…and the increase of attacks against civilians by the Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO) and the M23 as well as the on-going presence of other foreign armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Red Tabara and the Forces Démocratique pour la libération de Rwanda (FDLR), which continue to pose a threat to regional stability.”

Reuters reports, “The ADF is a Ugandan militia that has been active in eastern Congo since the 1990s and killed scores of civilians, many in middle-of-the-night attacks carried out with machetes and hatchets. It pledged alliance to Islamic State in 2019.”

Voice of America reports, “Over 120 rebel groups and militias still operate in the DRC’s eastern provinces nearly two decades after the official end of the country’s civil wars. The effort to restore peace has, since 2010, involved the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping force, with billions of dollars invested in the operation.”

Hence, the increasing crisis concerning the M23 is also enabling other militias and insurgents to spread their respective areas of control. 

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20221222-un-experts-point-to-rwandan-role-in-east-dr-congo-rebel-crisis

https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/great-lakes/democratic-republic-congo/regional-powers-should-drive-diplomacy-dr-congo-m23

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