Congo rebels' withdrawal from Goma 'purely tactical', say analysts

From Aid | The Guardian Mon Dec 3 2012, 07:24:13

Despite retreat by the M23, there's no sign that any of the major players are willing to act to stop the violence flaring up again

After much initial confusion, reports indicate that rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have finally withdrawn from the eastern city of Goma. This is, very tentatively, good news. Just a week ago, no one was quite sure whether the rebels intended to make good on their threat to march on the capital Kinshasa and overthrow the Congolese government, a move that could well have escalated into another regional war centered on the DRC.

This seems unlikely now. With a minimum of fuss, the rebels belonging to the M23 movement piled into trucks and retreated to a town 20km away from Goma (not before helping themselves to a few million dollars from the central bank, some weapons and a few nice new cars, according to some reports). Congolese police have arrived in Goma to restore the state's tenuous authority there, with soldiers due to follow shortly. The airport, the city's most important asset from a military perspective, will be guarded by 100 men each from M23, the Congolese Army, and the United Nations peacekeeping force, which has come in for so much criticism after its passive response to the crisis.

The withdrawal came after an agreement was reached last week at a conference in Uganda, where M23 representatives met with the Congolese government to discuss a way out of the conflict. Also present at the talks were senior officials from neighbouring countries, most notably Rwanda and Uganda. Both countries have been accused, with some degree of accuracy, of supporting M23's rebellion.

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