The Congolese Revolutionary Army, commonly referred to as the March 23 Movement or M23, is a rebel military force stationed in the eastern parts of Congo. They were driven to Rwanda and Uganda by Congolese and UN forces in 2012–2013 and pursued. The return of M23 in the current era has wreaked havoc in Congo. To increase its influence on the territory of its resource-rich neighbor, Rwanda has long supported the M23. But now that three African countries have joined forces to permanently crush the insurgency, the Rwandan government is cold.
According to recent reports, Uganda is sending 1,000 troops to the DRC to help the government fight rebel groups.
This decision was taken following the deployment of troops from Kenya to the DRC to support the fight against the M23 rebel organization in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
The Ugandan army, which is already at odds with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group with bases in the country, has announced that it will deploy about 1,000 troops to the eastern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo before the end of the month becomes.
According to the Ugandan army spokesman Brigadier General Felix Kulaigye, the group intended for this mission has been in training for months. Plans to train and deploy this unit have been in the works since June this year.
The M-23 Movement:
Formed in 2012, the M23 claimed to defend the interests of Congolese Tutsis, a group sharing the ethnicity of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, against armed Hutu groups, and in the same year captured Goma, the largest city in eastern DR Congo. After a peace deal in 2013, many M23 fighters were integrated into the national military.
The group resumed fighting in late 2021 after years of lying dormant, accusing the government of failing to honor an agreement to integrate its fighters.
It has since seized much of North Kivu territory, including the key town of Bunagana on the Uganda border in June.
For months, M23 has been conducting its most sustained offensive in years, killing dozens and forcing at least 40,000 people to flee in just a week. Almost 200,000 people had been displaced before the latest wave of violence last year.
DR Congo has repeatedly accused Rwanda of supporting the rebels, a claim Rwanda has repeatedly denied.
Rwanda may claim no ties to the M-23 movement, but the data clearly shows otherwise. You see, a significant portion of the world’s reserves of cobalt, copper, diamonds, tantalum, tin and gold are found in Congo. It is the main export revenue stream of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Since M23 can help Rwanda access these reserves, it is quite conceivable that Rwanda will fund the organization for this purpose in order to quickly benefit from the minerals.
In addition, Rwanda has been exposed to cross-border smuggling of the minerals.
Rwanda accepts defeat?
However, the Rwandan government has started acting like a cat in a hot rocks as key African states like Kenya and Uganda join forces with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to take down M-23s. Recently, Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta went after Rwandan leader Paul Kagame over the need for M23 rebels to cease fire and withdraw from captured areas in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to the East African Community (EAC) bloc ).
This is a fundamental departure from Rwanda’s existing foreign policy agenda, make no mistake about it. It means, albeit ambiguously, that the Rwandan government has agreed to support the M-23 movement. Rwanda is scared and left alone while other powerful African states come to the DRC’s aid. The Rwandan government’s support for M-23 may soon end as isolation from its neighbors could be fatal for the country’s government at home and abroad. As such, without financial or military support from Rwanda, the M-23 could soon end up on the ash heap of history.