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March 23 Movement
Mouvement du 23-Mars (French)
Dates of operationApril 4, 2012 (2012-04-04)–present
Leader(s)Makenga Sultani
Active region(s)Democratic Republic of the Congo, primarily North Kivu
IdeologyOverthrow Kabila's government and refuse to recognize the result of the Democratic Republic of the Congo general election, 2011
Notable attacks2012 East D.R. Congo conflict
StatusActive as of November 2012, allegedly supported by Uganda and Rwanda[1]
SizeAt least 5,500[2][3]

The March 23 Movement (French: Mouvement du 23-Mars), often abbreviated as M23, is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), mainly operating in the province of North Kivu. The group is currently involved in an armed conflict with the DRC government which has led to the displacement of large numbers of people. On 20 November 2012, M23 took control of Goma, a provincial capital with a population of one million people.[4]

Background

North Kivu Province, DRC

On 23 March 2009, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) signed a peace treaty with the DRC government,[5] where it became a political party, and the M23 soldiers integrated into the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). M23 takes its name from the date of these peace accords (March 23).

The army wing of the group is led by General Makenga Sultani; and the chairman of the group is Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero, a former CNDP member.

Formation

The M23 was formed on 4 April 2012 when nearly 300 soldiers, a majority of them former members of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), turned against the DRC government, citing poor conditions in the army and the government's unwillingness to implement the 23 March 2009 peace deal. General Bosco Ntaganda, also known as "The Terminator", was accused of leading the group,[6] and President Kabila called for his arrest on 11 April 2012.[7] The government had threatened to redeploy former CNDP soldiers away from North Kivu before the full implementation of the peace agreement, which prompted many of them to defect from the army and create the M23.[8]

The M23 is made up primarily of Tutsis and opposes the Hutu Power militia Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) as well as area Mai-Mai (community militias).[9]

Mutiny

The rebels have been active in the North Kivu province, fighting government forces in the Rutshuru[10] and Masisi territories. On 6 June 2012 a Congolese spokesman reported that 200 M23 soldiers have died in their mutiny and that over 370 soldiers have surrendered to FARDC, including 25 Rwandan citizens.[11] On 8 July 2012, Colonel Sultani Makenga announced that a government offensive to dislodge the group from their hideouts had failed, and that they had in turn captured several towns towards Goma, the provincial capital.[12]

Offensive

By 18 November 2012, March 23 Movement forces had advanced to the outskirts of Goma[13] and warned the UN peacekeepers (MONUSCO) not to support Government troops. Congolese Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused Rwanda of backing the rebels and stated that the DRC has "not yet declared war, but we are ready to face it. This is our country, our duty."[14]

On 20 November 2012, M23 rebels advanced on the city, and the Congolese Army retreated with little fighting.[15][16] M23 forces then paraded through the city, with some residents turning out to welcome them to the city.[16] Congolese customs officers abandoned their posts, leaving the border to Rwanda open. United Nations peacekeepers watched the occupation without intervening, stating that their mandate was only to protect civilians.[17]

DR Congo president Joseph Kabila urged Goma's citizens to "resist" the M23 takeover.[18] UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized the M23 for alleged human rights violations during the takeover, including destruction of property, "intimidation of journalists", and the abduction of women and children.[19] Noting that the First Congo War had begun with fighting in the same region, the New York Times described Goma's takeover as "raising serious questions about the stability of Congo as a whole."[17]

On 22 November 2012, the FARDC in cooperation with local Mai-Mai elements routed the M23 rebels in the nearby town of Sake, 27 kilometers from Goma, as they started marching toward Bukavu. [20] On the same day, General Gabriel Amisi was suspended from his position in the FARDC by president Kabila due to an inquiry into his alleged role in the sale of arms to various rebel groups in the eastern part of the country, which may have implicated M23.[21]

On 23 November 2012, M23 rebels retook Sake from the FARDC after an intense four hour battle and reinforced their position in the town. Rebels are reported to expand toward Kirotshe to the south, Mushaki to the north-west, and Kingi to the north.[22] The UN declared it lost access to 30 of its 31 refugee camps in the area due to M23's offensive.[23]


References

  1. "Rwanda defence chief leads DR Congo rebels, UN report says". BBC. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  2. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  4. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  5. "DR Congo government, CNDP rebels 'sign peace deal'". AFP. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  6. "DR Congo troops shell rebel bases". Al Jazeera English. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  7. "Congo's 'Terminator': Kabila calls for Ntaganda arrest". BBC News. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  8. Malcolm Webb (18 May 2012). "Thousands flee renewed violence in DRC". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  9. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  19. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  20. (French)"Nord-Kivu : la coalition FARDC-Maï-Maï aurait repoussé le M23 de Sake". Radio Okapi. from the original on November 22, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  21. (French)"RDC : le président Kabila suspend le général major Amisi, le chef des forces terrestres". Radio Okapi. from the original on November 22, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  22. (French)"Sake: les affrontements entre FARDC et M23 font 4 morts". Radio Okapi. from the original on November 23, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. (French)"RDC/Nord-Kivu: le HCR n'a accès qu'à un seul camp de déplacés sur 31". Romandie.com. from the original on November 23, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links

ca:Moviment 23 de març de:Bewegung 23. März fr:Mouvement du 23-Mars nl:M23-beweging ja:3月23日運動 ru:Движение 23 марта uk:Рух 23 березня