Stirring The Pot

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Thousands of people took to the streets of the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this week to protest against Rwanda’s alleged support of a rebel group in the region, Al Jazeera reported.

Protesters accused neighboring Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, a Congolese Tutsi group who has been fighting the DRC’s armed forces since last year after remaining dormant for years.

The rebel fighters initially became prominent in 2012 when they briefly captured Goma before a joint Congolese-United Nations offensive drove them out. The M23 has accused the Congolese government of failing to honor an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.

Since the fighting recommenced in 2021, the group has tightened its grip in the DRC’s eastern North Kivu province: In recent days, they seized two towns along a strategic highway leading to the provincial capital Goma, which lies on the Rwandan border.

M23’s resurgence has frayed relations between the central African neighbors, with the DRC accusing Rwanda of backing the rebel group.

On Sunday, the Congolese government ordered the Rwandan ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours.

The Rwandan government has continuously denied any links with M23 and accused the DRC of purposely escalating tensions between the two countries.

But despite its denials, an unpublished report for the UN suggested that the Rwandan government was involved with the rebel group. The report added that M23 plans to seize Goma – an important trade hub – to extract political concessions from the government.

Even so, Rwandan President Paul Kagame tweeted Monday that he had had discussions with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on how to de-escalate the tensions.

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