DRC army fights back, rebels hold Goma

2012-11-23 07:50
March 23 Movement. (AFP)

March 23 Movement. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sake/Goma - Congolese troops fought back on Thursday against rebels who rejected calls from African leaders to quit the eastern city of Goma, captured earlier this week in a major upset that forced the UN troops to withdraw.

Thousands of people fled the area of clashes around the town of Sake, as M23 rebel fighters rushed from Goma to reinforce their positions against an army counter-offensive.

Both sides claimed control of Sake as night fell on the troubled eastern area. There was no independent verification of who was holding the town.

The M23 rebel movement, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, has vowed to "liberate" all of the vast, resource-rich country after taking Goma, a provincial capital on the Rwandan border, ramping up tensions in a fragile region.

With DRC struggling to regroup its fractured army, President Joseph Kabila suspended the head of ground forces following allegations levelled by a United Nations panel of experts that he sold weapons to other armed groups in the east.

"The head of state decided to immediately suspend General Major Gabriel Amisi due to an inquiry. Other officers of lower ranks will also be investigated by the army," Information Minister Lambert Mende said.

The head of M23's political arm, Jean-Marie Runiga, said the rebels would not retreat despite the call to do so from governments in central Africa, preferring to hold their ground until Kabila opens direct talks with them.

"We'll stay in Goma waiting for negotiations," Runiga told Reuters in the city. "They're going to attack us and we're going to defend ourselves and keep on advancing."

Runiga flew to Uganda on Thursday for three days of talks with President Yoweri Museveni, who is acting as an intermediary for negotiations, a Ugandan presidential source said.

Rebel fighters seized Goma, a sprawling lakeside city of a million people, on Tuesday after government soldiers retreated and UN peacekeepers gave up trying to defend it.

The next day the rebels moved unopposed into Sake, about 25km west along the main road. It was there that government troops and allied militia were hitting back in fighting that flared up late on Wednesday.

Scramble to halt conflagration

Regional and international leaders have been scrambling to halt the fresh conflagration in the Great Lakes, a region of many colonial-era frontiers and long a tinderbox of ethnic and political conflict, with rich mineral deposits as the spoil.

On Wednesday, foreign ministers of the Great Lakes states demanded the rebels leave Goma and halt their advance. Kabila - in a concession to the rebels that fell short of opening talks - promised to look into their grievances.

"I'm not confident, because I've already waited for three months in Kampala for talks," Runiga said of a recent stay in the Ugandan capital, before travelling there again.

He said M23 wanted aid groups to return to Goma, after they evacuated during the fighting. Reuters correspondents saw aid workers driving in the city on Thursday.

The rebellion has triggered anti-government protests in Kinshasa and other parts of the country. On Thursday opposition figures seized on it to criticise Kabila's rule.

"Kabila is responsible for the suffering of the Congolese in Goma and in North Kivu. His leadership is weak," Bruno Mavungu, Secretary General of the UDPS party led by top opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi, who says he is the rightful winner of a 2011 poll that handed Kabila a second term.

Renewed clashes

Thousands of residents fled Sake on Thursday, a Reuters correspondent there said. Several truckloads of M23 fighters sped toward Sake from Goma as fighting raged in the afternoon.

Information Minister Mende said late on Thursday the army had wrested back control from the rebels, but a spokesman for M23 denied it had lost the town

"Sake and its surroundings are in the hands of M23. That's a provocation," Vianney Kazarama told Reuters.

Ocha, the UN's humanitarian coordination office, said about 140,000 people were now displaced in and around Goma as a result of fighting. It said power had to be restored to the town to avoid an outbreak of cholera.

M23 takes its name from a peace deal, signed on 23 March 2009, that was meant to bring former rebels into the national army, but which the group says the government has violated.

Read more on:    un  |  m23  |  yoweri museveni  |  joseph kabila  |  drc  |  uganda  |  rwanda  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Wine
 

You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

You might not know what a Tsunami Flip is, but just watching this will turn your eyes into saucers. Check out this first-ever MTB Tsunami Flip in contest here.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
Mountain unicycling – say WHAT?
Top tips to ensure you’re running right
Stand-up paddle boarding a great workout

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Power and leadership are emphasized today. It is important to strategize and delegate well otherwise you may end up with too much...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.