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The East African : December 16th 2013
10 The EastAfrican NEWS DECEMBER 14-20,2013 THE NAIROBI DECLARATION Key players in M23 rebellion BERTRAND BISIMWA Bertrand Bisimwa, formerly the M23 rebels’ civilian spokesperson, who signed the Nairobi “declaration” on behalf of the rebel group, was appointed its new leader in March after the former leader, Bishop Jean Marie Runiga, was forced out of the leadership. Bisimwa was an ally of the ousted M23 president Bishop Jean Marie Runiga. He joined the outfit in April 2012 after the rebels declared their opposition to the Congolese government for failure to honour an agreement signed on March 23, 2009. In early November, Bisimwa called on his fight- ers to lay down their arms and give the Kampala peace process a chance. A little known personality within DR Congo politics, Bisimwa was basically a beneficiary of the falling out within the M23 that pitted Bishop Jean Marie Runiga against Sultani Makenga, the former commander of the M23. On February 28, this year, forces loyal to Bish- op Runiga and warlord Bosco Ntaganda — who has since been taken to the ICC to face war crime charges — attacked the M23 rebels’ base at Cyanzu in DRC but were repulsed. SULTANI MAKENGA Sultani Makenga, who hails from North Kivu, and who, together with a band of M23 fighters surrendered to Ugandan troops in November, has been the military leader of M23 since the beginning of the movement in April 2012. He was part of the Rwanda Patriotic Front in 1990 fighting to oust the late president Juvenal Habyarimana. Makenga was also a member of the National Congress for the Defence of the People, (CNDP) which fought the government for five years before signing a peace deal in March 2009. BOSCO NTAGANDA Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator” for his penchant for frontline action, is believed to have been the founder of M23, given that the rebellion started when President Joseph Kabila ordered his arrest. Ntaganda is the former right hand man of Laurent Nkunda, whose CNDP was fighting the Congo government before it entered into a peace agreement in March 2009. Ntaganda was born in 1973 in Kiningi, a small town on the foothills of Rwanda’s Virunga mountain range. He fled to eastern DR Congo as a teenager, following attacks on fellow ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda. In 1990, at the age of 17, he joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels in southern Uganda. He fought, under the command of RPF leader — Paul Kagame — to end the genocide. After Rwandan unrest spilled over into DR Congo, he started to flip between fighting rebellions and serving in national armies — both Rwandan and Congolese. He is currently facing charges at the International Criminal Court. BISHOP JEAN MARIE RUNIGA Jean Marie Runiga was a bishop for 24 years before becoming the president of M23. He is a former spokesperson of the anti-corruption bureau of the DRC and his incorporation was important in giving the M23 outfit credibility in Kinshasa. At the beginning of the rebellion, Bishop Runiga called on the international community to investigate the atrocities that have occurred in Goma in the past, warning that the region could slide into chaos similar to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In March 2013, Bishop Runiga was thrown out of the M23 after being accused of treason and diversion of M23 funds to forces loyal to warlord Bosco Ntaganda. He would later take refuge in Rwanda with some fighters from his faction. TIMELINES 2012 APRIL: Took up arms claiming that Congolese President Joseph Kabilia failed to live up to a 2009 peace deal. APRIL 1: Close to 300 soldiers from the former rebel group, CNDP, desert the Congolese army, spreading panic in the North Kivu Province of DRC. APRIL 11: President Joseph Kabila reportedly calls for the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda. Clashes persist throughout the month between the M23 and the Congolese army, displacing thousands. JUNE 4: Human Rights Watch reports that Rwandan officials are supplying Ntaganda with troops and weapons. The European Union releases a statement acknowledging external support is being given to M23. JUNE 15: UN Security Council condemns the M23 mutiny and the killing and abuse of civilians, mostly women and children, by armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The Council urges the full investigation of credible reports of outside support to the M23. JUNE 27: The Group of Experts on the DRC submits an addendum to the Interim Report accusing Rwandan officials of supplying direct military support including arms, munitions and military intelligence, to the M23, in violation of the standing arms embargo against the DRC. JULY 6: M23 captures the town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda. Some 600 DRC troops flee across the border and take refuge in Uganda. M23 issues a statement calling for peace talks with the government. JULY 8: Rebels capture Rutshuru, a town located just 70 kilometres north of North Kivu’s capital Goma. JULY 15: Presidents of the DRC and Rwanda meet at the African Union Summit and agree to work with the AU to establish a neutral international force that will patrol the border and dismantle the FDLR and M23. JULY 22: The US cuts $200,000 in military aid to Kigali via the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, marking a significant policy shift in a bid to pressure the Rwandan government to cease its backing of M23. JULY 26: The Netherlands suspends economic support of $6.15 million to Rwanda due to its support of M23. The UK delays $25 million and the African Development Bank delays a disbursement of $38.9 million. SEPTEMBER 6: Britain unfreezes around half of its aid to Rwanda. SEPTEMBER 8: Regional heads of state meet in Kampala to call on the cessation of hostilities, the creation of the Joint Verification Mechanism, and establishment of a neutral international force to patrol the DRC-Rwanda border. OCTOBER 17: A copy of the UN Group of Experts (GoE) final report on DRC is leaked, accusing General James Kabarebe, the Rwandan Defence Minister, of effectively directing the M23. GoE also accuses Uganda of sending troops to help rebels in a deadly attack on UN peacekeepers. Rwanda and Uganda deny the charges. OCTOBER 20: M23 announces that the rebels’ military branch has been renamed the Congolese Revolutionary Army and threatens to resume fighting if the government doesn’t negotiate. NOVEMBER 13: Uganda closes the Bunagana border crossing into DR Congo to economically weaken M23. NOVEMBER 14: The US government imposes sanctions (travel ban and asset freeze) against M23 leader Sultani Makenga a day after the United Nations added him to its sanctions list. NOVEMBER 20: M23 fighters capture the strategic eastern city of Goma with little resistance from the army or UN peacekeepers. They suggest that Monusco to stand as a buffer between the M23 and the DRC army. DECEMBER 2012: Peace talks begin in Kampala under the chairmanship of President Yoweri Museveni. 2013 MARCH 15: Bishop Jean Marie Runiga flees to Rwanda after fierce fighting with another faction led by Gen Sultan Makenga. JUNE 20: Peace talks between M23 rebels and DRC government resume in Kampala NOVEMBER: A two-week UN-backed offensive corners the rebels in the hills along the border with Uganda and Rwanda. M23 flees from the offensive and the war is virtually over with nearly 2,000 former rebel fighters crossing to Uganda. NOVEMBER 7: Brigadier Sultani Makenga surrenders to Uganda People’s Defence Forces in Kisoro, western Uganda. NOVEMBER 12: The Congolese government reject a peace deal with the defeated M23 rebel group, dashing hopes for a definitive end to the 20month insurgency. DECEMBER 12:M23 and DRC government sign peace deal.
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December 23rd 2013