Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Monday, June 4, 2012

The M23 rebellion: Leading with the chin

Since the beginning of the M23 rebellion in late March, the mutiny has appeared rushed and ill-planned. "Something was indeed in the works," one of the M23 supporters told me, "but it was not yet ready." This may explain why the initial wave of defections between March 31 and April 7 was quickly brought under control, many of its protagonists arrested and the rank-and-file troops re-defected back to the national army. According to this theory, Col. Makenga and Gen. Ntaganda had panicked after it appeared the Congolese government might try to arrest Bosco and break up the ex-CNDP parallel chains of command in the eastern Congo.

While the M23 has since gained military momentum with a new wave of defections, it has lacked a political base.

Enter the political wing. Its embryo became visible on May 6, when the CNDP's media arm was revived in a press statement. There have also been a series of declaration by members of the Congolese Tutsi community (see here and here), reporting an alarming spate of abuses against its members by the Congolese security services.  The movement's backers have also been reaching out to Hutu and Tutsi leaders in an effort to bring together the two communities behind M23. "Given the track record of the AFDL, RCD and CNDP here," one Hutu chef de poste who had been contacted told me, "they know they can't succeed without bringing our communities together."

It was little wonder that, given this context, the arrival of former North Kivu Governor Eugene Serufuli - who wields huge influence in the Hutu community - in Goma ten days ago sparked debate. Rumors began making the rounds that he had come to throw his weight behind the M23 mutiny; the fact that he passed through Kigali to reach Goma whipped up further banter. Nonsense, Serufuli and his allies demurred. "We have nothing to do with this rebellion, for which we were never consulted," one of his associates told me.

The movement is apparently trying to create a political and social foundation for itself to bolster its military ambitions. What are these exactly? While it is seems that the initial aim was to defy Kinshasa's attempt to break up CNDP networks in the East, that ambition has evolved as the mutiny has suffered setback after setback. Some officers now speak of taking Masisi and the official stance is to achieve the implementation of the March 23 Agreement, still others wax lyrical to their troops about federalism or even autonomy. While no one in the rebellion seems very sure of what the ultimate objective is, it will inevitably involve negotiations with the government at some point.


Anonymous said...

The root cause of the rebellion was trashing of 2009 agreement by Kabila. JK is cunning, he invites people to make peace then he turns against them.
1. Jean Pierre Bemba was invited into Kinshasa, surrounded and his troops annihilated
2. Lubanga was invited under peace deal. His family was wiped out and him handed over to ICC
3. Bosco was invited, duped and then he was about to be arrested. kabila should understand that he cant use people like condoms. Use, then discard.

Anonymous said...

Kabila creates ALIR?
Le Potential newspaper reported yesterday that a new anti-Rwanda rebel group was created in Sud Kivu. With FDLR losing reputation as a criminal gang, Kabila created this group as a trade-off tool with Rwanda. Wait and see.

Anonymous said...

It is so regrettable that every body tries to make efforts of not reading the picture of events clearly. Analysts of congolese politics go with bias or are influenced by local professional manipulators. I would like Mr Jason to unswer the following questions
Did Kabila do his part in the deal he did sign wirth CNDP?
Does his army protect tutsi civilians or is it not their source of insecurity
What has the international community which was the facilitaor in the peace process do to prevent the current situation?
what is the motivation behind distributing dollars to so called Tutsi loyalists soldiers? My humble reading the situation is that Congo lacks strong leadership,the weak that is in place does not mind the situation that is ongoing,and the international community wants the situation the way it is if not worse than that.
Que Dieu nous fasse misericorde! pauvres congolais!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous well said, it is once again the people of the Congo that suffer the shortcomings of leadership and outside manipulation... maybe federalism is an answer, anything to bring about peace and stability. The solution of tying the Kivus to Kinshasa does not work and will never work, in Mobutu's time the Kivus were much better off as Kinshasa's did not meddle, civil society and private enterprise were the drivers of stability.

Colored Opinions said...

'Kabila should understand that he cant use people like condoms. Use, then discard.' That's called diplomacy.

congo man said...

When KABILA was singing that march 23 so called peace deal,he understood very well that he was singing a deal with RWANDES spys, war Criminals sent by KAGAME to further his bloody plan of destroying our Country. Those criminals like all ether Criminals after getting away many times they became so blinded to see the reality and they failed to understand that they can't be a deal with bloody terrorists. The entire world now understand the reality of KAGAME'S crimes and no matter how hard you try ,you are not going to fool the world again . No single inche of our country will never ever be under the Control of Rwandan war Criminals again.

congo man said...

Thank you very much for this update .

congo man said...

Hey Mr TERMINATOR you can run but you can't hid, you have been fooling the world for so long but the reality has finally come out and the clock of history is now ticking for a new change in our region .just come out of your hiding cage in KIGALI and give yourself up to the international Community so that you can defend your self in the court of lows. Killing and more people and abducting more Children is not going to help you. Sooner or later you are going to be captured and punished for more crimes that you are now committing .

Anonymous said...

That TUTSI game that you are trying to play is no longer relevant,every one knows who the war Criminals are. You fooled the word for a long time and now you are fooling yourself. Mr TERMINATOR, we are only urging you to come out and understand that nothing is eternal.

Rich said...

Anon June 4, 2012 10:19 PM and June 5, 2012 1:01 AM -

You are trying to deflect attention here. I am sure Jason's post is a good revelation of the lack vision by the remaining group of those thinking they can forever enjoy setting up parallel chains of command within a nation that is striving to end inpunity and ensure that those who are being inspired by hatred between two communities from rwanda can finally learn from other Congolese communities who live in harmony and seek to settle their arguments through peaceful processes.

For many Congolese J Kabila seems like a very moderate approach to dealing with rwandan arrogance. You should here what other Congolese political leaders think about rwanda to realise that it is in rwanda's interest to hurry up and make true peace with DRC now before J Kabila is gone.

Trust me, once Kabila is gone, if kagame will still behaving in DRC in the way he is now, things will get very very ugly.

Yes J Kabila may have signed an agreement with cndp... bottom line is that doesn't mean bosco and his followers had to behave as if they are above the LAW. There are evidence and many reports showing bosco breaking both Congolese and international laws; for that reason, he and anyone helping him should be arrested and tried regardless of what was agreed upon in March 2009. if Kabila doesn't do that he will be breaking the LAW too...


Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

We Congolese talk too much...M23...Terminator..Tutsi...Rwanda...Tshi Tshi...FDLR...Kagame...Mai Mai...Hutu.. bla bla... while others are doing and going up.
Let's leave poetics for politicians.. Let's leave criminals for Judges.
Tribalism, hate, selfishness, jealousy planted in our blood....

Congo is a failed nation but we are doing too little to give it life.
Every one talks the talk... We do little... everyone prefers to believe in history which is already done than making their own history.

By the way i heard that Matata Ponyo will come to Goma next week if not this week.
The President also may come with high delegation to sort out the security issue in this part of the country.

Let's hope that they will come with hand full solution.


Rich said...

Rwandan involvement in DRC a complex conspiracy -


Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous JUNE 4, 2012 11:18 PM

So funny! I heard that the M23 gang is trying to invent a “political foundation” only now. What happened to the political party CNDP member of the MP.
Forget it for ever,THERE IS NO AGGREEMENT at all between Congo and CNDP(M23). It is only now that Congo wants to take the criminal Ntaganda to justice that these “professional rebels” realized that they had grievances. We have never heard of grievances or (so called March 23 agreements) when Ntanganda and Makenga were the heads of “Amani leo”. Instead, they went around smuggling coltan to Rwanda and terrorizing our population. Give me one grievance(suffering) that is particular to Tutsis that other Congolese communities may not have (soldiers salaries? security? jobs? )

Assume u have some grievance, u r defeating it superbly. Congolese hate tribal(sectarian) causes or leaders. It is a pity that people have been living in Congo but fail to understand Congo and Congolese psyche. All 400 tribes in Congo are minorities (the biggest ethnic group in Congo is just 7% of the population, and even it is not homogenous).

As for federalism and all that, sorry we don’t need any illuminated lesson from any experts. Take your miracle solutions to Rwanda instead. We r Congolese and will do what is gud for us.


blaise said...

I had to refresh my memory about the famous accord between the government and the Cndp. I have to recognize there are several good ideas express there. Unfortunately, the bulk of the agreement is base on questionable assumptions about the government abilities to implement some disposition. It's an extraordinary sophisticate way of seeing the actual government's work rate.
I don't think most Congolese (people or tribes) enjoy a control of the military and state apparatus like the Cndp and his members have in the Kivus and Kinshasa. (except maybe for Kabila's inner circle).
I honestly still don't see how this old strategy of going from rebellion to rebellion is supposed to solve the problem in the Kivu either. It's obvious to me that the M23 has others interests than implementing those accords.
Let's entertain the idea that they are indeed trying to "make it right". The question is what have they done the past two years to :
- dismantle the fdlr
- bolster peace between communities
- push their partner in power to implement their deal?
The reality on the ground seems to indicate that:
- their high commanders were involved in contraband
- their integration in the Fardc didn't bring anymore peace than before
- they were behaving as bad as their colleague in the army.
The bottom line is that the whole army is not treated right. There is a dangerous resistance in the high up hierarchy to change things.
They should be tired to be in the forest by now.

Anonymous said...

We've heard from MONUSCO, mainstream media, human rights organisations and even the Rwandan government has spoken. - Why is the Congolese president so quiet and saying nothing? The balcanisation of Congo is in motion - Congolese must be on their guard.

Anonymous said...

@ Jason can you please highlighted for all our "internet politicians" and loyal
readers of this blog like Blaise, Congoman, Rich etc..the 23rd march agreement
between the CNDP and the Government of DRC. I would advice them to go
to the front line and help FARDC troops instead of spending their times talking useless
and hatred words on this respected blog.Dont need your stupid reply to this comments leave Western
countries where you live thanks to white alms and pity.Vous etes la honte de l'Afrique on dirait
que temps na bino eza kaka internet avec vos commentaires ya kizoba

Unknown said...

The rhetoric of DR Congo being a failed state is often used to justify the actions of those in charge of destabilizing this country. We Congolese will not be distracted by any of these. We are in the process of building a strong, rich and powerful nation in the heart of Africa. In the very first section of the so-called of 2009 agreement (1.1.c), the rebels committed never again to resort to violence or armed rebellions for political gains. Obviously, they are not respecting their own document. The key issue here is the loss of privileges and control of the Eastern Congo by people who belong in jail in the first place, for their actions against the nation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason,

Can you please let me know where you found this photo? I'm a photo editor trying to track down the source.


congo man said...

@ chuchuru
My friend Congo is not and will never be a failed state, thats just wishful thinking from blind KAGAMISTS like you. Mobutu left a vacuum and people like you failed to understand that the power vacuum was just temporary,and you started to believe in you own twisted dreams and propaganda and thought that RWANDA can became a power in that region .my friend CONGO is rising back and KAGAME is not going to stop it. You now have to choose on wich side you are going to be.

We have over 400 tribes in Congo and we all lieve together peacefully ,unlike you Rwandes we don't have a history of macheting each ether to death.
Stop calling yourself Congolese because you are a Rwandese refugee but not a Congolese.if you love Rwanda so much why can't you just move back to your beloved Country?

congo man said...

Do you really think that your comment is going to help BOSCO,Kagame ,or NKUNDA? Wake-up man why are you so angry ,dit you think that the world will continue to look the ether way and let KAGAME's bloody reing of terror Continue on its destructive road ?what makes you think that your little impoverished sorry of a country is the most important country in our region and the world can just seat back and let you continue to defie international lows and get away with the most barbaric war crimes that humanity has ever witnessed. You fooled the world for so long and now you are fooling yourself.

Anonymous said...

@ The so called Congoman

You have corroborated yourself that you were born racist!
Sorry for your children, who will inherit such a bad attitude from you. How many Congolese generation will continue in a such habit?

Martin Luther King said.... "We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools."

I was following your posts since you have joined this blog but not even a single day you have written fundamental or crucial points other than insulting and opposing. Change yourselves man!

Jason brought up this blog to let the world aware of Congolese entire Political and living standards, just because we could not make it by ourselves.

It is every Congolese's responsibility to change Congo instead of adding more fuel on fire. You can do something.
Napoleon Said... ''The world suffer a lot not because of the violence of bad people. But because of the silence of good people.''

We were all shouting, abusing each other during the election period... PPRD,Tshi Tshi, Kabila, Kamere.... everything passed...We shouted a lot during CNDP period... all passed. Now this conflict in the east with M23 also will come to pass... but WE remain and remain.
Nevertheless as Shakespeare said '' Never play with the feeling of others because you may win the game but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for life time."

I am confident to let you know that NOT EVEN WHOEVER PRESIDENT OF CONGO WILL TELL ANYONE FROM THE EAST THAT YOU ARE NOT CONGOLESE GO BACK TO RWANDA unless a suicidal decision - Every one knows the consequence.


Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous at JUNE 5, 2012 8:29 AM

Dear Kagame agents and pushers (= anti-Congo mob), ur 15-year unchallenged propaganda against Congo is over. Ur insulting me is nothing compared to the Holocaust of my people. Anyway, it is time for the peoples of Congo and Rwanda to have peace and progress that Kagame has denied them for so long. It is time for Congo to lift up our African Continent. A bad news for u: all around the world young Congolese like me are up and standing for our Congo-Cherie. But most us on this blog are rather moderate compared to the majority of enraged Congolese (ex. Combattants or Congo’s Opposition).

So lets recap: forget it for ever, THERE CAN NEVER BE ANY AGGREEMENT (accord) between Congo and those “rebels by profession” of CNDP(M23) or anyone else, that somehow grants superior and extraordinary privileges to a tiny group of people. Unlike in Rwanda, all tribes in Congo are equal, and we are determined to build a democracy. So, if u have grievances join a nationwide political party, or create one. I can prove to u that JK is not that much powerful as u think.

Wow, u learned bits of lingala! Here is a lingala quote 4 u: “Soki obuaki libanga na molili, moto aleli hein, ca veut dire ezui ye!”. That is, if u throw a stone in the dark and someone cries, he is the one hit! So don’t cry to Mama yet, this time around we Congolese are ready to take u on in the battle, and anywhere else and anytime!


Anonymous said...

@ "Muanacongo" don't fool yourself.Churuchuru i really like your last paragraph... any way if if our beloved Congo will be built by people like Muanacongo, we still have a long way to go.Look like is traumatized by Kagame, the is a real irresponsibility. Mawa mingi....

Anonymous said...


Why you take yourselves as if Congo is only belong to you?

I am Congolese from west but i do not like the way you behave.

Try to bring unity, we have seen many leaders like your thinking but they have no space for the moment.

congo man said...

@ano June 5,2012 8:29 am
There no need for Mr JASON STERN to highlight what everyone already know. When KABILA was signing that agreement with BOSCO and his so called CNDP,he knew very well that he was signing an agreement with Rwandese war Criminals, spys,and terrorists who invaded our Country,plundered our minerals,raped and enslaved our sisters ,massacred our man,woman,and Children and who's last mission was to use that agreement to infiltrate our military and ether institutions in order to achieve their goal of destroying our Country. All Congolese considered that agreement as an act of treason .if BOSCO and his CNDP terrorists thought that KABILA was a suicidal president who was ready to honor such a agreement ,they where dreaming
BOSCO NTAGANDA is a wanted war criminal and defending him on Congo siasa is not going to cleanse his well documented war Crimes,if you love him so much just ask him to give him self up instead of adding more crimes to his already mile long criminal record. Black mailing the international community by committing more crimes is only making the mater worth for him and his protector (PAUL KAGAME) because sooner or later they will have to face justice for all the war Crimes and crimes against humanity that they continue to perpetrate on the peoples of EASTERN CONGO.

Anonymous said...

@ano June 6,2012 1:41AM
If you think that by finishing you comment by a lingala word (mawa mingi)after expressing support for your president Paul Kagame makes you not a real Rwandese ,you are fooling yourself. Unlike you we Congolese people are proud of our identity and we really can't comprehend why most of you think that having a Rwandese nationality is an insult and you all want to be congolese.

Anonymous said...

@ ano June 6, 2012 2:34 AM: Lol you make me laugh at least , you make my days .
So for you someone who talk Lingala automatically become Congolese....
Quelle complexe mon Dieu, huruma sana kwako, urambabaje pe. For my best of Knowldge English is not
part of DRC' official languages, so i if guess you should be Liberian,Ugandese, south Sudanese or ....
FYI I'm congolese wheter you likes or not, unanipata.No need of argue about that.Let go to H.E Paul Kagame we are proud of
him for so many things..., it's a good leader par excellence et sur beaucoup des points mais personne n'est pas parfait.
What about our JK??? my tears are flowing already what a shame....

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thank you muanacongo, for some good points raised here. All congolese should have a single agenda of making DR Congo a prosperous,whole and powerful nation in the heart of Africa.Any agreement intended to relinquish control of parts of our nation to foreign interets is good for trash, no questions about it. The over 400 tribes in Congo, who live in harmony, are struggling to get by. However,they are committed to make Congo a better place for the next generations, in peace. There's room in Congo for everybody sharing this vision of our forefathers stated in our national anthem Debout Congolais (Stand up Congolese).

Anonymous said...

@ Ano at JUNE 6, 2012 6:45 AM AND family

U can keep a brave face, but deep down u know u r busy losing. Now Congolese know by heart ur way of operating. U use little distraction and re-herring, and try to run away from real issues. Like here, u r trying to use futile diversions of insults, languages, and Kagame worship to escape from the issues at hand. Here they are, debate them if u can:

(1) Ntaganda is a criminal, he should face justice in Congo and at ICC.
(2) Any soldier (M23…) who is begging to be Congolese must avail himself and be redeployed (swallowed) far in other provinces where he will hear nobody speaking Kinyarwanda, but Kimongo or Kisakata…lol
(3) We Congolese don’t want war at all. We want peace in the Kivus and elsewhere so that we can turn Congo into the engine economy of Africa. Yes, remember that we were disadvantaged at independence (1960) with few universitaires, but by the 1970s Congo had engineers-economists-professors that made Congo the most important African economy then. We have learned from our mistakes. We have done it before, we are doing again now!

(4) Rwanda of Kagame is busy destroying its only crutch, world’s pity. The IC now knows that Kagame is indeed the obstacle to real reconciliation in Rwanda and peace in the Great Lakes. So Rwanda may not get free lunch from its int’l begging anymore.

In short, here is a simple question 4 u : “ If king Kagame’s Rwanda is such a pradise, why are u guys dying to stay in JK’s Congo hell?”. Kama uko na courage, una weza kujibu ili swala!


Anonymous said...

People come down take a deep breath... there is a hope in the near future the whole world will be paradise they will be no Congo,Rwanda,Uganda Neither wars no Hutu tutsi luba surch things will be of the past.But remember if you kills or hates other people will no be apart of the paradise. My brothers you need to relax, soon God will bring justice and peace to every one...Psalms 37:8-11;Revelation 21:4-5. Let me know what you thing of those scriptures.

Anonymous said...

From Radiookapi:
Les rebelles des Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) alliés à la milice Nyadura ont incendié quatre villages mardi 5 juin dans les groupements Upamando I et II à 80 km au Sud de Minova-centre dans le territoire de Masisi (Nord Kivu). Selon des sources locales, la situation sécuritaire demeure précaire dans le groupement Upamando I et II où des populations se déplacent vers les villages voisins dit sécurisés.

Le chef de la localité de Ngungu, dans le groupement Upamando, a indiqué que les personnes trouvées en dehors de leurs maisons ont été jetées dans les maisons qui brûlaient mais leur nombre n’a pas été révélé.

Le président de la société civile d’Upamando affirme que les rebelles FDLR commettent ce genres d’exactions au cours de leurs affrontements avec les miliciens Maï-Maï Raïa Mutomboki.

Des sources locales déplorent l’absence des Forces armées de la RDC (FARDC) dans les groupements Upamando I et II où les groupes armés sèment l’insécurité

Rich said...

Please can anyone organise to leak the report mentioned in the link below?

The report is still in a draft form to be presented to the UN SC. It's got to be leaked otherwise they will delete damaging evidence against rwanda as collected by UN experts on the field.

It's got to be leaked otherwise millions of Congolese in Eastern DRC will not have their voices heard by the powerful


Anonymous said...

@ Rich

I watched the video link you posted here on Rwandan involvement in Congo and the US gov's relationship with Kagame. The facts are essentially correct - but there is another interpretation.

American involvement with Kagame and Museveni evolved as a matter of expediency - and one based on realist calculations of power politics (guilt over failure to intervene in the Rwandan genocide probably played some role). The western powers had lost confidence in Mobutu, his failing health and collapsing state were alarming. Even his most ardent cold war supporters could not be happy with the way he allowed the economic structure of the country to collapse. But they stood by him until the end of the cold war...the first Bush Admin. tried to pressure him into a transition. The Clinton Admin. considered his exit to be in the national interest of both the US and the Congolese people.

Where I take exception with the video narrative is it gives priority to economic interests over strategic interests. When Henry Kissinger formalized the view of Congo/Zaire as a regional stabilizer, as a classical realist his conception was driven more by balance of power considerations rather than secondary economic interests. The DRC as an anchor state in central Africa is a conception American policymakers have held since the Kennedy/Johnson years.

For the DRC to assume the role of a regional stabilizer it needs to be a strong I cringe when I hear the oft repeated assertion that the west wants a weak DRC. If you look at what Belgium and the US are trying to do to build the capacity of the FARDC, I think it is readily apparent what both powers have in mind.

Both Belgium and the US have longstanding ties to the DRC and they both recognize the emerging power the DRC will become...whether that is sooner of later remains to be seen.


Rich said...

Bruce -

Many thanks, I agree with you. I've never bought into the economic interest argument myself.

You are right about the role of DRC and I can say that rwanda and uganda got lucky with the end of the cold war and the start of the "war on terror" when we saw Sudan becoming an increasing threat.

Reading from the context I can say that rwanda and uganda were a kind of transitional allies to the US in the region and that now DRC is knocking on the door to lead again that part of the world as it did during the mid 1960s to the late 1980s. And I am pretty sure that if the 1960s to the late 1980s this was to do with the cold war and that the 1990s to now is to do with terrorist threats, I can anticipate by thinking that after kagame and museveni (rwanda and uganda) influence in the region, the shift will be on economic pertnership since Africa will take a big part of economic growth in years to come (similar to today's BRICS etc...)in that capacity, I think the DRC will fit the bill better than any other country in the region.

The sad fact is, Congolese will be humiliated and killed a bit more before their case is ready for the world to let them take the lead in that region.


Wesz said...

Dear Jason and Others,

First of all: sorry, it will be an offtopic comment.

I'm a Hungarian history student who's actually working on a PhD-thesis about Africa and its position during the Cold War. Today I was searching for some information about the present-day reputation of Che Guevara, mostly in Congo. I'm very curious that how does a Congolese judge, think about, consider etc nowadays about Guevara according to his historical role.

So yeah, I had no clues how to get in touch with Jason or with some Congolese, because now I have no chance to travel to Congo. So I appreciate every kind of answer that would be sent to my e-mail address (

Thanks a lot
Gábor Weszprémy

Anonymous said...

A firm reaction from J Kabila,

ayan said...

thank you for sharing

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