M23 Consumed by Infighting

From Enough blogs Thu Mar 7 2013, 08:16:58

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- Over the course of last week, the M23 has been consumed by internal fissures so profound they might precipitate the demise of the group. The M23 has long struggled with an internal division between the military leader Sultani Makenga on the one hand and the International Criminal Court indictee General Bosco Ntaganda and his sidekick, the groups' political leader Jean-Marie Runiga on the other. But it wasn't until last week that the infighting spilled into the wide open-with dramatic consequences. The pro-Makenga wing is now at full-fledged war with the pro-Ntaganda side, causing dramatic humanitarian fallout and plunging the Kivu provinces further into turmoil.

On the day the United Nations together with 11 African heads of state convened in Addis Ababa to sign a peace agreement for the Congo and the region, the simmering squabbling among the M23 finally sparked heavy fighting. A total of three soldiers and eight civilians, including a journalist of the Rutshuru-based La Colombe Radio Station, are reported to have been killed in the assault. The M23 tried to save face by blaming the attack on its long-standing adversary, the FDLR.

Makenga and his troops reportedly withdrew to Bunagana and Tshanzu, close to the border with Uganda and Rwanda. Ntaganda's forces, on the other hand, pulled out of Kiwanja, Rutshuru city, and Rubare and headed to Kibumba, 30 km north of the provincial capital of Goma. Makenga's men followed suit and engaged in heavy fighting with Ntaganda, triggering the displacement of thousands of people both in Rwanda and Congo.

Amid the fighting, Makenga took a bold political step on February 27, sacking M23's political chairman, Jean-Marie Runiga, citing "[i]incompetence, financial embezzlement, divisionism, ethnic hatred, deceit and political immaturity." Others suggest that both sides fought ...

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