Press TV reports
Congolese troops retake eastern towns after M23 withdrawal -
Cartoon Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Government troops of the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken control of a number of eastern towns for the first time in eight months, after the March 23 movement (M23) rebels, weakened by infighting, withdrew from the territory.
The Congolese Army took over the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja on Friday night to protect the citizens from bandits and armed gangs who had taken advantage of the situation to prey upon civilians, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) said on Saturday.
The problem actually is who will now save the civilians from the the FARDC forces. I blogged about this back in November when Goma had fallen to M23. I knew of the behaviour of FARDC from first hand accounts from people in Goma . From that blog.
" Actually it would appear from reports that the Congolese army is not regrouping
"The soldiers came and they started to shoot and rape our women. They stole all the food and goods in the shops. They said if anyone spoke out against them, they would be killed."
The soldiers being described do not belong to a rebel militia running amok, instead they are members of the national army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The accusation was made by a resident of the town of Minova, who did not wish to give his name for fear of reprisals."
The tragedy inflicted on the people of Minova is worse than that inflicted on the people of Goma due in no small part to the checked momentum of M23. These reports have been confirmed by Al Jazerra TV in New Zealand."
FARDC do not deserve the credibility of being known as a national army. They are little more than thugs.
"Since last night, those areas are under government control. (M23) left those areas and it is for us, the regular forces, to take our responsibilities and secure them… against the pillaging, rape, and killings," Colonel Olivier Hamuli stated.
Yes well as I said, I have had first hand accounts of the FARDC behaviour in Goma prior to them running away from the M23 rebels invasion. M23 behaved far better than FARDC did with regard to the civilian population all thought that was probably more a function of them succeeding FARDC and thus being to late to get in any real pillaging.
Later in the day, an M23 spokesman called the government action a "pure provocation" and said the rebels were en route to recapture the towns.
"There is a risk (of clashes) because the government has left its positions and come to provoke us. M23 warns Kinshasa and the international community that anything that happens now is the government's responsibility," Colonel Vianney Kazarama said.
The back drop to this is of course the peace talks for the Eastern DR Congo as well as a vicious internal dispute in M23. In one sense this might be the first half way reasonable tactical decision that FARDC have made. The problem is of course they have no intention of actually holding the ground should M23 get its act together and decide to contest the control.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday that over 4,000 refugees crossed into Uganda on Thursday night to escape clashes between armed factions of the M23, one of them led by a renegade general wanted on war-crimes charges.
The fighting broke out on Thursday after M23 military chief Sultani Makenga sacked the group's political leader, Jean-Marie Runiga, for his alleged links with renegade Bosco Ntaganda, prompting fighters to turn their weapons on each other.
I would have thought it would have been almost impossible to confuse issues in the Eastern DR Congo any more than they already were but clearly I am wrong.
Ntaganda, known by the nom de guerre "Terminator" due to his brutal methods, has been wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2006 on charges of committing the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of fifteen and using them to participate actively in hostilities.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese Army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the FARDC. They had previously been integrated into the Congolese Army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.
Some how the AU ( African Union ) force working as a division of the UN United Nations ) MONUSCO ( it is French but it means the UN forces on the ground doing nothing at all in the DR Congo ) force mandated by the UN Security Council the AU, separately mandated by the International Conference Great Lakes Region ( and trust me I am bound to have left some organisation out ) is going to sort this chaos out.