M23 Rebels suffer heavy losses
Written by MASEMBE TAMBWE
M23 rebel forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have suffered heavy losses forcing Rwanda to send two battalions to rescue the rebels as the United Nations roundly condemn the latest bout of violence in the eastern part of that country.
Impeccable sources from Goma told the 'Daily News on Saturday' that Rwanda had sent over 1,500 soldiers in the past 24 hours and were stationed at Kibumba, some 25 km (14 miles) north of Goma waiting to advance.
"The sending of the troops is in response to the heavy fire that M23 came under on August 23 and August 27 this year in Kibati, but the Congolese military, the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) and Force International Brigade (DIB) forces are alert and ready," the sources said.
The source said that they have no doubt that the Rwandese forces that have come to help the M23 rebels are not sure what to do next and need prayers should they decide to proceed.
In a statement issued yesterday, UN – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the latest violence in the eastern DRC and called on all parties to engage in the political process that aims to address the causes of the conflict.
Wire services report that South Africa has warned rebels fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo not to try and retake the battleground city of Goma on Friday after a week of escalating violence.
"We're trying to send a message to the M23, this time around you're not going to see Goma," said Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, South Africa National Defence Force Chief of Joint Operations.
Mr Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply concerned about the escalating violence in the eastern DRC” and in particular by the indiscriminate shelling by the armed group M23 which caused deaths, injuries and damage among the civilian population in the eastern provinces as well as the immediate border area in Rwanda.
Reports from the wire services also announced that rebel fighters have begun a retreat near Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after clashing with the Congolese army and UN troops. The rebel move follows accusations that they fired into neighbouring Rwanda.
Fighters of the rebel group M23, which has clashed repeatedly with the Congolese military for more than a year, said on Friday they were withdrawing from the forefront of their most recent skirmishes. The group's leader said the retreat was in response to alleged shelling of a town across the border in neighbouring Rwanda on the previous day.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe told this paper yesterday he had met with ambassadors from the five permanent UN Security Council for discussions.
Mr Membe said that during the discussions, he thanked them for the condemnation of the slaying of the Tanzania peacekeeper and he articulated that he wanted them to convince Rwanda to refrain from supporting the rebels in the DRC.
He said that the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had convened a Great Lakes Region emergency meeting in Kampala on September 4th for ministers and September 5th for Heads of State respectively.
Over the past year, the M23, along with other armed groups, has clashed repeatedly with the national DRC forces (FARDC) in the eastern DRC. As part of an effort to address the underlying causes of violence in the region, the Government of DRC along with 10 other countries and four regional and international institutions adopted a framework to consolidate peace in the country.