The ‘silent’ M23 invasion in Goma

Tuesday 20th, November 2012 / 22:15 Written by


UN soldiers were not intervening but rather watching the M23 rebels take over in Goma. © UN Photo by Sylvain Liecht

UN soldiers were not intervening but rather watching the M23 rebels take over in Goma. © UN Photo by Sylvain Liecht

No Congolese army in town while the inhabitants of Goma and with them about 20.000 UN soldiers simply watched the fighters of the M23 rebel movement enter the city and take it under their control. With that, one of the Great Lakes Region’s strategically most important cities has been captured. Almost no fighting has been reported and it was rather a silent invasion than heavy exchange of fire.
Meanwhile thousands fled North Kivu’s provincial capital in fear of an uncertain security situation. Although fighting failed to appear during the last days, people are afraid of plundering and killings.
The rebels of the M23 movement are former soldiers from the Congolese army, trying to topple the current regime in Kinshasa. (Read more about the M23 on

DRC’s president Joseph Kabila addressed the nation and the residents of Goma in particular, saying:

DR Congo is today confronted with a difficult situation…When a war is imposed, one has an obligation to resist. I ask that the entire population defend our sovereignty.“

But the seizure of power in Goma brings another even more dangerous factor with it. DRC government officials blame the Rwandan administration in Kigali of backing the rebel movement in order to gain control of the neighboring North Kivu region. Here parts of the population still consist of former génocidaire who fled the RPF invasion in 1994. It is estimated that the whole military corps of the ex-FAR (Forces Armées Rwandaises) and FDLR fighters (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda) are still hiding in the dense bushes of the region.

On Aljazeera, the government spokesman Lambert Mende from Kinshasa is quoted as saying:

If Goma falls, it’s going to create a whole other set of problems. We refuse systematically to speak to them (M23). Because if we do, it would be a way to wash away Rwanda’s responsibility.”

This illustrates how explosive the invasion of the M23 in Goma actually is. It remains to be seen how the communication between the government in Kinshasa and the group of Sultani Makenga, leader of the M23, will develop. If the rebels stick to their plan of fighting the DR Congo government until it falls, it is possible that the region will be going through another long period of warfare. Goma residents were promised to be delivered peace by the M23 but most feel anything but safe.


Goma, DRC

StepMap Goma, DRC


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About the author

Fields of work: Environment, Fisheries, History, Countries: Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Zimbabwe Part of since: January 2011

View all articles by David Drengk

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