Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UN to reinforce DR Congo borders after rebel defeat

Good People of the world,

Does this statement from Russ Feingold make sense? Does Russ Feingold have power over the Congo peoples Government interest??? Is this what the Congo People want and fought for......? To reintegrate M23 rebels into Congo Army??? Did I read right??? Do Congo people have to accept this kind of dictation??? If this is what Russ Feingold this is right, why not reintegrated M23 into Rwanda Army since they are Tutsi Rwandese and they belong to Rwanda? I am stunned...................!!!!
[Russell Feingold, US special envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, said the deal needed to raise the issue of amnesty and reintegration of rebels into the army to ensure its durability.]
Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,

Congo-Kinshasa: M23 Rebels to Lay Down Arms in East Congo

By Jessie Wingard, 5 November 2013

Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank
School kids crossing busy intersection in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 rebels have ended an18-month insurgency in one of Africa's deadliest conflict zones. As news spread, it became clear that this was what people had long been hoping for.
The M23 group surrendered Tuesday, saying it would "end its rebellion" and instead pursue their goals "through purely political means."
The announcement came just hours after more than 200 rebels were coaxed from their hilltop positions within the M23 strongholds of Tshanzu and Runyoni early Tuesday morning.
Group leaders called on fighters to lay down their arms following a fortnight of fighting that cornered the militia in heavily wooded hills along the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

"The chief of staff and the commanders of all major units have requested to prepare troops for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration on terms to be agreed with the government of Congo," M23 leader Bertrand Bismwa said in a statement.
'Victory for the DRC'
In response to the announcement, government spokesperson Lambert Mende commented that, "It is a total victory for the DRC." The rebels, he added, who had been flushed from the hills, fled to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

More than 80 M23 rebels crossed the border into Uganda, Ugandan army spokeperson Paddy Ankunda said, adding the men were being held until a diplomatic decision was made on their fate.
The army began a major offensive against the rebels on October 25, gradually claiming the rebel-held strongholds until the intransigent M23 militia was forced into the mountains about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the regional capital, Goma.

By Sunday (03.11.2013), the insurgents had called for a ceasefire, but the army pursued their assault along with United Nations troops. The UN special force had up until then been assisting the military with aerial reconnaissance, intelligence and planning, but joined fighting after being given the go-ahead to attack the mountain region.
Since the ceasefire was called, the UNHCR has received over 5,000 Congolese to their transit center, 20 kilometers inside Uganda. That, Lucy Beck, the UNHCRs external relations officer told DW "was the biggest amount of refugees we've ever transported in one day from the border." Since fighting began, she added, "The organization had assisted more than 75,000 people who arrived in Uganda from the DRC."
An issue of amnesty
At the SADC meeting of regional leaders being held in South Africa on Tuesday, DRC President Joseph Kabila said he would sign a peace deal within the coming days if the M23 rebel group laid down their arms.
Russell Feingold, US special envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, said the deal needed to raise the issue of amnesty and reintegration of rebels into the army to ensure its durability.
"In a region that has suffered so much, this is obviously a significant positive step in the right direction," he said. Those suspected of serious human rights violations, he added, should be sought out and not aided through amnesty.
Support for a peace accord
In a show of support, women in the capital, Kinshasa, dressed in white and chanted songs praising the country's leader and the army. One woman told DW, "We've suffered so long from this war. Now we are very happy." Another added, "There will be change now. The president promised that when the war was over. Now we have to love each other."
In response to the announcement, the United States said it was a "significant positive step" for eastern Congo, a region that has endured more than 15 years of conflict as competition for gold, copper and cobalt intensified along with cross-border ethnic tensions.
As the conflict with the M23 draws to a close, Martin Kobler, head of the 19,850 UN backed peacekeeping mission in the DRC, said their efforts would now turn to the countless number of armed groups operating in the east, including the Rwandan Hutu FDLR that fled across the border after the 1994 genocide.
"We have teeth, and we are using those teeth," Kobeler said from Pretoria, making reference to the 3,000-troop intervention brigade currently stationed in the DRC.
While many peace deals have been signed in the past, there is hope this recent accord will stand firm and send a message to other rebel groups across the DRC and the greater African continent.
"The military victories over the M23 will send a very strong message to the many other armed groups operating in the east," said Stephanie Wolters of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Pretoria.
"It may prompt them to consider the advantages of a negotiated solution over a drawn-out military campaign."
*Additional reporting by Gaius Kowene in Goma

After crushing M23, Kinshasa sets sights on Hutu rebels

DR Congo Army General Bahuma Ambamba (2nd L) walks with UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) General Carlos Alberto Dos Santos of Brazil on November 5, 2013 near Chanzu, in the eastern North Kivu region

Jomba (DR Congo) (AFP) - Kinshasa vowed Wednesday to build on its defeat of the M23 rebels to hunt down other groups still roving the volatile east while the UN called for sealing the end of the insurgency with fresh talks.
Further fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was already in the offing with the government pledging to eradicate Rwandan Hutu fighters, who include the remnants of the militia that carried out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
An offensive is "being planned, but we cannot announce it", an army spokesman for the eastern North Kivu region, Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Amuli, told AFP Wednesday.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the M23 was only the first of a plethora of well-armed and organised groups -- numbering as many as 45, according to the US special envoy for the region -- in Kinshasa's sights.
"The M23 was at the top of the list; they were replaced by the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). We will get on with disarming them," Mende said Tuesday.
Kinshasa has been repeatedly accused of using the FDLR as pawns in a complex proxy war with neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, in turn accused of backing groups such as the M23.
The rebels' crushing defeat appeared to signal that the minority Tutsi-led Rwandan government had finally yielded to intense diplomatic pressure and chosen to abandon its alleged proxy.
Among the demands of the M23 in peace talks that collapsed in the Ugandan capital Kampala last month was the neutralisation of the FDLR, which they say regularly harasses the Tutsi community.
The Rwandan government has adamantly denied supporting the M23, made up mainly of ethnic Tutsis who speak the main Rwandan language Kinyarwanda.
Rwanda awaits results
Human Rights Watch also called on Kinshasa and the UN force MONUSCO to "address the threat posed by other abusive armed groups" in the lawless region where human rights abuses including rape, murder and recruiting child soldiers are commonplace.
And it called for the arrest and prosecution of M23 leaders for war crimes in "fair, credible trials".
The head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, said he had "warned the other armed groups... not to take advantage... of the current void" left by the M23 or face action by the UN troops tasked with protecting civilians.
At closed talks in New York, Kobler was quoted as saying that the UN force would reinforce its positions "to avoid flows of arms across the border, to avoid the FDLR crossing to Rwanda."
Rwanda, a temporary Security Council member, made it clear it would not hesitate to send troops over the border into DR Congo if Kinshasa failed to stamp out the FDLR.
"Rwanda remains fully prepared to use all necessary means to protect its people and territory," its UN envoy Eugene Richard Gasana was quoted as saying during the same meeting.
Kobler had also stressed it was vital to "finalise the next stages of the agreement discussed in Kampala" to address the grievances of the former Tutsi rebels.
The issue of amnesty was central when the last round of talks broke down.
In Jomba, as well as in nearby Chengerero, farming towns north of the regional hub Goma from where the M23 launched their rebellion, few Tutsis could be found.
'No Tutsis or Hutus, just Congolese'
One who gave his name only as Ferecien said he and his wife and three children returned home after hearing that the M23 had surrendered. He said the provincial governor had issued a statement saying that there were "no Tutsis, or Hutus or Nande, just Congolese".
The disbanding of the M23 marks the clearest and most significant military victory for the Congolese government since the 1963 crushing of a separatist rebellion in the southern province of Katanga.
Analysts say better preparation by the Congolese troops and the unprecedented offensive mandate granted to a special UN brigade tipped the military balance.
The heavily armed 3,000-strong UN intervention brigade joined 17,000 MONUSCO peacekeepers already deployed with a mission to stamp out the armed groups.
The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said more than 35,000 people who had fled the fighting would begin returning home, and warned of the dangers posed to civilians by "large quantities of unexploded ordnance".
The powder-keg North and South Kivu region, with its patchwork of ethnic groups and vast mineral resources, saw the birth of the 1996 Rwandan-backed rebellion that toppled Mobutu Sese Seko and installed Laurent-Desire Kabila, the father of the current president.
The region was also the detonator of the 1998-2003 conflict known as the Great African War, which involved nine countries and claimed more than 2.5 million lives.
The 1994 genocide in Rwanda saw 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis, slaughtered by the military and Hutu militias.


After Congo rebels end fight, challenges remain

Associated Press
Emmanuel Kazingufu, right, stands with friends on the remains of his home, destroyed last August by a Congolese army mortar shell in fighting with M23 rebels, in Kibati, eastern Congo, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. Now that the M23 rebels have officially given up their fight, 27-year-old Kazingufu is rebuilding his house. In this mineral-rich region wracked by violence for nearly two decades by a myriad of armed groups, though, the government’s declared victory over M23 brings only cautious optimism.(AP Photo/Joseph Kay)
KIBATI, Congo (AP) — A Congolese army mortar shell destroyed Emmanuel Kazingufu's home in mid-August as soldiers hunted down M23 rebels. Now that the rebels have given up their fight, the 27-year-old is rebuilding.
In mineral-rich eastern Congo, wracked by violence for nearly two decades by a myriad of armed groups, the government's victory over the M23 rebels brings only cautious optimism.
"I am not sure this is the end of the M23. I learned that they had fled to Rwanda —that's where they came from. They could come back," Kazingufu said Wednesday as he worked on reconstructing his home with wooden planks.
The 19-month rebellion forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, many of whom have sought refuge too many times before. Now the government must disarm the M23 fighters and negotiate with other renegade militias to establish a sustainable peace, experts say.
On Wednesday, the Congolese flag again flew in Chanzu, the former fief of M23 leader Sultani Makenga, who is believed to have fled the country as his movement disintegrated. Congolese authorities found a stash of some 300 tons of weapons left behind there, Gov. Julien Paluku said.
M23's promise to end its rebellion "signals an important milestone," said Tariq Riebl, Oxfam's humanitarian coordinator for Congo, adding that attention must now shift to eliminating other threats to civilians.
"The demise of one group doesn't spell the end of conflict in the country's east," he said.
"Now, more than ever, the Congolese government and international community must take steps to ensure that other groups don't move in to fill the space left by the disbanding of M23."
On Wednesday, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo pledged to do just that.
"Armed groups should know that we're not going to leave a void. We are going to respond with force against all threats to the civilian population," Martin Kobler said.
The greatest remaining menace comes from the FDLR, a group led by Rwandan Hutus who helped commit the 1994 genocide and later escaped to Congo. The presence of the FDLR has prompted Rwanda to invade Congo twice before in an attempt to wipe out the group. It also has provoked a series of Congolese Tutsi rebellions, including the latest one launched by M23 in April 2012.
While the FDLR has weakened in recent years, analysts say it is still well entrenched and its presence in eastern Congo is a reason many of the other armed groups say they exist.
Even as the Congolese military celebrated its victory, attention began shifting to the tasks now ahead to secure the peace.
Kobler briefed a closed meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York by videolink, and China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi, the council president, said members will be responding with "a very important message" to help countries in the region achieve peace and security on a wide scale.
France's U.N. Ambassador, Gerard Araud, said his country will circulate a draft presidential statement later Wednesday.
"This success is only the beginning," Araud said. "M23 combatants must now be disarmed. The Congolese administration needs to get back to the areas that were recovered and provide basic services to the population. All other armed groups beside the M23 which threaten civilians in the Kivus need to be neutralized ... and finally the states of the region must deal with the root causes of the conflict."
Rwanda's U.N. ambassador, Eugene Richard Gasana, said the Congolese army and U.N. peacekeeping troops, including its new intervention brigade, must go after the FDLR immediately. "Otherwise I won't let them sleep," he said.
Congo's U.N. Ambassador, Ignace Gata, told reporters his country wants a durable peace. "Today we are happy to have ended the rebellion, but we know the work is not finished."
Russ Feingold, special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and Congo, said in a conference call with U.S. State Department reporters Wednesday in Washington that an agreement has been negotiated with the M23 and could be signed this week or early next week in Uganda.
That agreement has "very specific provisions" for how the group will be disarmed and protected from other fighters operating in the region. The Congolese government also must resolve the issue of who will be eligible for amnesty and reintegration.
"If this agreement goes through the way I hope it will and believe it will, it will only provide amnesty for the rank-and-file members of M23 for purposes for having been part of a rebellion," he said.
It marks a change from 2009, when a previous agreement with rebels allowed even those accused of committing major crimes to come back into the Congolese military.
Human Rights Watch has accused the M23 fighters of killing scores of civilians and forcibly recruiting child soldiers, among other abuses. Many of the rebel group's leaders are now believed to have fled into neighboring Uganda and Rwanda.
Congo's government and a U.N. group of experts have long said neighboring Rwanda has provided weapons and other support to M23, a claim the Rwandan government denies.
It remains to be seen how much sway M23's military command still has over its rebels and whether they all will abide by the order to lay down their arms, said Timo Mueller, a Goma-based researcher with the Enough Project, an advocacy group active in eastern Congo.
"M23 soldiers need to disarm and to disarm they need security guarantees," he said. "It's important that the army does not resort to revenge killings and also the wider Tutsi community has to be protected."
Without full disarmament, there is a risk that the M23 could simply return with the same members only in another shape or form. The M23 itself emerged in April 2012 in the wake of a previous Tutsi rebellion. By November 2012, they swept into Goma and briefly held the city of 1 million people, only to retreat under international pressure.
In the aftermath of the Goma siege, internal divisions mounted within M23. The group was substantially weakened after its leader, Bosco Ntaganda, turned himself in to face charges at the International Criminal Court earlier this year.
The Congolese army succeeded in defeating the M23 because it reorganized to become a stronger, more competent force and it received logistical support from U.N. forces that had stronger rules of engagement, analyst said. Another crucial factor was that Rwanda's aid to the rebels substantially diminished during this latest round of clashes, they said.
In the town of Kibati, Emmanuel Kazingufu said he hopes the end to hostilities this time would be followed up with meaningful dialogue that will bring a lasting peace.
"Building and rebuilding is too tiring," he said as he put back up the walls of his home.
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writers Saleh Mwanamilongo in Kinshasa, Congo; Deb Riechmann in Washington; and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


DR Congo's Bunagana town 'empty' as army presses M23

4 November 2013 Last updated at 12:53 ET
Refugees flee fighting across Ugandan border. 4 Nov 2013 Thousands have fled across the Ugandan border. Picture: Ignatius Bahizi
The entire population of Bunagana town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has fled fighting between government and rebel forces, residents say.
The BBC's Ignatius Bahizi, who is on the Ugandan side of the town, says missiles are being fired, killing four people.
The government on Monday rejected the M23 rebel group's call for a ceasefire.
At least 800,000 people have fled their homes since the conflict began in March 2012.

Last week, the UN special envoy to DR Congo, Martin Kobler, said the group was all but finished as a military threat in DR Congo.
Government forces captured Bunagana, the main base of the M23 on the DR Congo-Uganda border, the next day.
However, fresh fighting erupted on Monday and the mood on the border is very tense, our correspondent says.
'Market shelled'Refugees have told him that only Congolese government troops are now in Bunagana, with the town's several thousand residents fleeing into Uganda.
Other BBC reporters in the area say the rebels seem to be fighting back more fiercely than on previous days.
Continue reading the main story


Moses Rono BBC Africa security correspondent

The imminent defeat of DR Congo's M23 rebels is the result of shifting military and political dynamics that present the most concrete prospects of peace in the unstable central African nation.
Its defeat would send an intimidating message to at least 10 other rebel groups operating in the area, raising hopes that a lasting peace for the mineral-rich nation may finally be in sight.
The M23 rebels were routed from its main bases by DR Congo's army, a force generally known for its indiscipline, inefficiency and corruption.
When the M23 took control of Goma in November 2012 it embarrassed the government and put pressure on the international community after human rights violations emerged.
President Joseph Kabila made changes to the military hierarchy and troops fighting in the east.
In a sign that these changes might have started working, no reports of human rights violations blamed on Congolese army have emerged, unlike during previous operations.

But government troops have taken Mbuzi, a strategic hilltop above Bunagana, after hitting it with tank and rocket fire, UN sources have told the BBC.
Seven rebels were captured, Reuters news agency reports.
"Victory, Victory," soldiers in the nearby town of Ntamugenga chanted after receiving a radio message that Mbuzi was under government control, a journalist with the AFP news agency reports from the scene.
Government forces are now targeting three other hilltops, where dozens of rebels are hiding, an army official told AFP.
Shells fired by the M23 have fallen on both sides of the border, with at least four people killed and 17 wounded in DR Congo, various sources have told the BBC.
They said the shells had landed on a market and a police station in Bunagana.
Ugandan district commissioner Ahmed Mustapher Doka told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that Ugandan troops have been deployed near the border to instil "confidence" in the population.
Ugandan territory was shelled on four occasions as the fighting spilled over, he said.
Security officials ordered the closure of shops along the border, and told residents to move deeper into Ugandan territory, our reporter says.
The latest violence follows a string of victories by government troops who have driven rebels from all towns they once controlled during a 20-month rebellion.
Peace talks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, broke down last month following two months of negotiations.
On Sunday, M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa called for a ceasefire to "allow the continuation of the political process".
He urged rebel commanders to "ensure the strict observance of this order".
However, on Monday the M23 said in a statement that the government had launched a new assault using "heavy arms".

M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa claims that government troops continued shelling after his soldiers began a ceasefire

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the government wanted the M23 to "clearly announce the end of their armed rebellion".
The M23 should also give up its weapons, he said, in a statement.
However, the government was prepared to give the M23 "one last chance", Mr Mende added, without elaborating.
BBC Africa security correspondent Moses Rono says the defeat of the M23 would send a powerful message to at least 10 other rebel groups operating in the area.
It would raise hope that a lasting peace for the troubled nation may be in sight, he adds.
DRC troops in recaptured M23 territory Congolese troops have steadily recaptured areas from M23 rebels
The M23 movement is named after a 23 March 2009 peace deal that ended four years of rebellion in eastern DR Congo.
They took up arms once more in April 2012, accusing the government of not respecting the agreement.
The rebels briefly occupied the eastern Congolese city of Goma in November 2012 before pulling out under international pressure.
Government forces have been backed by a UN intervention brigade deployed earlier this year to confront the M23 and other armed groups.
Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda after carrying out a genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The M23 are mainly ethnic Tutsis, like most of Rwanda's current leaders.
Rwanda and Uganda deny Congolese and UN claims that they have supported the M23 rebels.

UN to reinforce DR Congo borders after rebel defeat

New York (AFP) - UN troops will help reinforce Democratic Republic of Congo's borders to stop rebels and arms getting into other countries after the defeat of M23 mutineers, a top UN envoy said Wednesday.
France, the United States and other leading UN Security Council members widely welcomed the rout of M23 at talks on the conflict-stricken country.
But Rwanda, a temporary Security Council member closely implicated in the conflict across its border, called for a new focus on rebels which oppose its government.
Martin Kobler, UN representative to DR Congo said the UN peacekeeping mission, officially known as MONUSCO, would strengthen border positions to stop ethnic Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) crossing into Rwanda.
"We need to reinforce MONUSCO positions near the border to avoid flows of arms across the border, to avoid the FDLR crossing to Rwanda," Kobler was quoted as telling the closed meeting.
UN troops, a new special intervention force, backed an offensive by government forces that this week defeated M23 rebels who launched an uprising in eastern DR Congo in early 2012.
Rwanda has warned that it remains ready to intervene in DR Congo, and this message was reinforced by its UN envoy Eugene Richard Gasana. Rwanda is particularly enraged by FDLR operations across the border.
"Rwanda remains fully prepared to use all necessary means to protect its people and territory," Gasana told the meeting.
Afterwards, Gasana told reporters the Security Council should order the intervention brigade in DR Congo to take on the FDLR and other armed groups.
"This is a genocidal force which is there," Gasana said. The FDLR is made up of remnants of Hutu extremists blamed for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which an estimated 800,000 people died.
But the DR Congo government victory was widely praised at the closed meeting.
UN peace envoy Mary Robinson told ambassadors the M23 defeat was a "very special moment" in efforts to halt decades of conflict in eastern DR Congo.
"The wolf at the door, the M23, was threatening civilians, was threatening MONUSCO. We hope that the threat of this wolf at the door is now gone for good," US ambassador Samantha Power commented, according to envoys.
France's UN envoy Gerard Araud told reporters the defeat of M23 was "a success for the Congolese army and for the United Nations."
But he added that the M23 fighters had to be disarmed, the government must re-establish its authority in rebel areas, there had to be more work on a political accord among countries around DR Congo and there must be a new fight against other armed groups.
Araud highlighted the FDLR, Mai-Mai militias and the ADF-Nalu (Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda), Islamist militants who UN experts have linked to Al-Qaeda backed Shebab in Somalia.
The French envoy said the FDLR was a "legitimate" concern for the Rwandan government, which has been accused in the past of aiding M23.
DR Congo's UN ambassador Ignaca Gata said the government now wanted to "eradicate all of the negative forces" in the eastern region.
Gata added that the government wants to complete an accord with remnants of the M23 that is being negotiated in Kampala.
He said it could allow for some M23 fighters to be integrated into the national army but this would be decided on "a case-by-case" basis.

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