On Thursday 15th November 2012, fighting between FARDC and M23 resumed, reported several mainstream media and other local sources in areas close to Goma, the regional capital of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
BBC World Service interviewed FARDC spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Olivier Hamuli on the confrontation. Our source in the area confirmed that in the early hours of the morning, Rwandan forces supporting M23 crossed in trucks FUSO the Kabumba border between Rwanda and DRC at Kabatwa and Mwaro localities.
The Congolese army spokesperson explains:
“We were attacked from behind. On the side bordering Rwanda, where no other enemy than of Rwandan Defence Forces could’ve attacked us. They are all wearing Rwandan army uniforms. You cannot know who is who: M23 or RDF.”
According to the Congolese army, the Rwandan attack was aimed at capturing the refugee camp of Kanyarucinya situated in a 20 km distance from Goma and which already shelters more than 60,000 displaced people.
For those who are familiar with RPF guerrilla war tactics, refugees have always been used as human shields in its ways of penetrating enemy’s territory.
While FARDC forces were containing the Rwandan attack, there were other fronts from where M23 were attacking Congolese army’s positions. But at the end of the day the fire power of Congolese soldiers outweighed the rebels’ tactics and their supporters.
It is assumed that the fighting was started by M23. But the latter claims the opposite. Whoever started it, there are rumours – part of the armed group’s psychological warfare – , saying that the intention of the rebels is to capture Goma.
Dr. Charles Kambanda, lecturer at St. John’s University Law School, finds it ill-thought from M23 strategy the operation of wishing to control militarily North Kivu provincial capital, considered the state of diplomatic isolation its main supporter – Rwanda – is presently experiencing.
“Capturing Goma!! It might be militarily possible but a real political gamble for Paul Kagame. The way he is stuck with M23 is the way he would be stuck with Goma. Capturing Goma won’t put him in a better position… On the contrary, he risks that his top men will be indicted by the ICC. …this is the same route that was used to destroy Charles Taylor. Capturing Goma might be an open cheque for Kagame indictment!”
Since the very beginning, UN Group of Experts has worked hard to demonstrate the involvement of the Rwandan government with M23. Many international and governmental meetings have been held and others are still ongoing about that active participation of Paul Kagame’s regime in acts of destabilizing DRC, and yet Kigali does not shy away from supporting openly Thursday’s fighting helping M23.
The problem which apparently remains is no more about evidence of the Rwandan support to M23, but of what the international community should definitely make of these persistent irresistible operations of destabilizing DRC and occupying its territory by proxies.