Congo. Several times during the year, clashes erupted between government forces and the tutsidominated M23 guerrilla in eastern Congo-Kinshasa, while peace talks were occasionally going on in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. By the end of 2012, M23 (the March 23 Movement) had captured Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, forcing the government army to retreat. The rebels threatened to try to overthrow the Kinshasa government, but later withdrew. Until autumn 2013, the situation changed completely. According to the Congolese government, the rebels had been defeated militarily and a peace agreement was underway. There were several things that contributed to the stage change. In February, eleven African countries had agreed on an agreement that meant a new special force, the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), with UN mandate with offensive methods would take up the fight against rebel movements in eastern Congo-Kinshasa. According to Countryaah, FIB was part of the larger UN force MONUSCO, which has been in the country for several years. At the same time, Congo-Kinshasa’s neighboring countries promised not to interfere with the country’s internal affairs. The FIB’s mandate did not only apply to the M23, but also to the many other armed groups in the area, not least the hutumilis Democratic Forces of Rwanda’s Liberation (FDLR), whose presence in Congo-Kinshasa was sensitive to Rwanda being repeatedly accused of meddling in the conflict there (including by supporting M23). The soldiers in the new FIB force came from Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa. In March, it became evident that a deep crack occurred in the M23 where different factions supported different leaders. Struggles broke out between the group that supported Sultani Makenga and the one loyal to Bosco Ntaganda. These led to Ntaganda and many of his men fleeing to Rwanda. After Ntaganda crossed the border, he surrendered to the US Embassy in Kigali and asked to be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague where he was wanted for serious war crimes. He no longer seemed to have the support of the Rwandan regime. According to analysts, the conflict within M23 partially dates back to 2009 and the role Ntaganda played when Laurent Nkunda, leader of M23’s predecessor CNDP, was arrested in Rwanda. But the factions also seemed to have different opinions about a possible peace agreement with Kinshasa. New battles between the army and the M23 caught fire in July, August and October.
- According to AbbreviationFinder.org, Kinshasa is the capital city of Democratic Republic of the Congo. See acronyms and abbreviations related to this capital and other major cities within this country.
The peace talks went on periodically, and at the beginning of the autumn, it seemed as if the parties agreed on most things. However, the crack question, both now and in the past, was whether the rebels would be included in the government army, something Kinshasa opposed. An important reason for the weakening of the M23 was the new UN force, which was now being fought alongside the government army. In addition, the army brigade that had been located in the province had been replaced by a more professional unit. After a few days of fighting in October, the military claimed that the M23 was defeated, and hundreds of rebels fled across the border into Uganda. A peace agreement between the parties was said to be largely clear, but when it was to be signed in November, the government refused to sign it. The disagreement was said to be about the title of the peace agreement, not its content. When the settlement was finally signed, In connection with Kenya’s 50th anniversary as an independent state on December 12, the government and the M23 signed various documents, where the texts also differed. It seemed as if new calls would be required to calm the peace settlement in port. Many people had already questioned whether this could really be the end point for the conflict between the government and Tutsi people in North Kivu. The peace agreements with CNDP, and its predecessor RCD-Goma, had not led to peace. In addition, several other rebel groups were active in the Kivu provinces, not least FDLR and several so-called Mai-Mai militias. In November, 39 government soldiers, including several officers, were brought to trial in a military court accused of committing mass rape in Minova, near Goma, since M23 withdrew from the city in 2012. At least 130 women and girls had been sexually abused. Soldiers told the media that they were acting on orders from their superiors. In the Katanga province, there were also unrest, with fighting between the government army and the Mai-Mai militia. In North Kivu, government forces in July fought against a Ugandan rebel group ADF. During the year a new group appeared, the Revolutionary Forces Union (UFRC), which in February stated its intention to take power in South Kivu. At the same time, President Joseph Kabila tried to start a dialogue with representatives of the opposition and civil society. However, the dialogue meeting that Kabila held in September was boycotted by several leading opposition politicians who expressed suspicions that the president wanted to change the constitution in order to stand for re-election, something he cannot do in the current writing. In late October, Kabila said he intended to create a national unity government, which would include both the opposition and civil organizations. Kabila also announced that Mobutu’s remains would be returned to Congo-Kinshasa from Morocco, where the former dictator died in 1997.