Tanzania warns Congo’s M23 rebels to stop threats

Last month the M23 rebels warned they would retaliate if attacked by a new UN peacekeeping force, in which Tanzania are due to take a key role/FILE

Last month the M23 rebels warned they would retaliate if attacked by a new UN peacekeeping force, in which Tanzania are due to take a key role/FILE

ARUSHA, Tanzania, May 4 – Tanzania on Saturday said Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels must end threats over the country’s planned sending of troops as part of a UN force to tackle the insurgents.

“This is intimidation, they must stop it,” Tanzanian foreign minister Bernard Membe told parliament. “If they provoke us, we will retaliate.”

Last month the M23 rebels, who operate in eastern DR Congo, warned they would retaliate if attacked by a new United Nations peacekeeping force, in which Tanzania are due to take a key role.

M23′s political leader Bertrand Bisimwa last month wrote to Tanzania’s parliament warning the fighters had previously beaten even “larger and better equipped” forces, and that the same would happen to Tanzanian troops if they continued in this “dangerous adventure”.

But Membe said Tanzania was not frightened.

“Our army is very strong. We will be in DRC as a force for peace, to restore peace in the burning house of our neighbour,” he said, accusing the rebels of “killing, raping and forcing several thousand people to flee.”

M23, named for a peace deal with the DRC government signed on March 23, 2009, emerged out of an ethnic Tutsi mutiny in the army in April 2012, on the grounds that Kinshasa was not upholding the pact. The rebels briefly seized the North Kivu provincial capital Goma in November last year.

In March, the UN Security Council unanimously approved the creation of a brigade of more than 2,500 troops with a mandate to conduct “targeted offensive operations” against rebels in eastern DR Congo, a mineral-rich area that has been gripped by conflict for more than two decades.

The UN force is due to consist of three infantry battalions, an artillery company, a reconnaissance company and “special forces”, with troops being mustered from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania.

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  • indsn

    What the world seems to have ignored for long is the actual origin of M23. M23 is a perpetuation of the original NRA agenda started on Feb 6 1981 in Uganda. That agenda included pretty much of the Great Lakes region of East Africa. Uganda was a weak link and given the Idi Amin saga provided a perfect spring board for Rwanda Tutsis to plot not only to return to Rwanda but to create a Tusti dynasty in the whole region.

    Remember the Tutsis were ousted from power in Rwanda in 1959 many of them taking refugee in Uganda , Congo and Tanzania. Their chance came at the time of fighting Idi Amin, headed by Tanzania. They joined the Uganda forces that ejected Amin at a time when anyone helping fight Amin was a friend of Uganda. And by then some had naturalised into Ugandans though their hearts and souls remained in Rwanda.

    After Idi Amin, the plot was take over Uganda, then Rwanda, Congo and Kenya. It is not clear what their plans were for Tanzania though it is reported that the original NRA force included fighters from all these countries in preparation for future incursions.

    having ethnic Tutsi populations in these countries made the prospect of an all conquering Tutsi dynasty a real prospect. Today many in the ruling NRM belong to this clique. Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda started as an NRA high command operative. After starting the NRA adventure in 1981, 1986 they conquered Uganda, followed by Rwanda in 1994 and Congo in 1998. But the struggle in Congo still continues till either there is a session or complete take over.

    The approach in Kenya was rather subtle with the main contact being RAO who incidentally is not even ethnic Tutsi but very close the Tutsis of Kenya in Western Kenya. not many made sense of the close association between RAO and NRM in Uganda but it should not have been lost on many given RAO’s tactics many of which were directly borrowed from NRM in Uganda.

    This M23 thing is a continuation of the NRA agenda. Fighters of Lubanga, Nkunda, Ntaganda and now M23 have greatly benefited from training of soldiers at Uganda’s NRM Kyankwanzi, a creation of NRA, now NRM.

    • Benard Gutwa

      hey who are the tutsi you are referring to in western Kenya

    • Benard Gutwa

      hey who are the tutsi you are referring to in western Kenya