The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a powerless giant in the face of interference from Rwanda

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To analyse. Never, for thirty years, in the wake of the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – that is to say the administrative regions of South Kivu and North Kivu as well as Ituri – has known no lasting peace. The fighting thus resumed in November 2021, with the return of a rebellion that many believed to be extinct: the March 23 Movement, or M23, created in the 2010s officially to protect the Tutsi of Congo. As ten years ago, Rwanda is accused of instrumentalizing this rebellion. Kigali’s responsibility for the latest violence which, in a few months, has already thrown 450,000 people onto the roads and killed dozens of others cannot, however, hide other reasons: the chronic weakness of the Congolese State and the ambitions regions of another neighbor of the DRC, Uganda.

Read also: The facade withdrawal of M23 rebels in eastern DRC

In a few offensives, the M23 has indeed dislodged the Congolese army from several of its bases under the passive gaze of blue helmets from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco), a contingent of some 15,000 men deployed in the DRC since 2002 for a rather inconclusive result. The rebels have taken control of a large area north of the city of Goma, bordered to the east by the Ugandan border. Uganda, where many “historic” M23 fighters had taken refuge after their military defeat in 2012.

Rwanda is clearly designated by Kinshasa and by the group of UN experts in charge of this crisis as the logistical and ideological sponsor of the M23. The United States and France have also called on their Rwandan partner to stop its interference. On January 19, by telephone, the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, again expressed his concern to the Angolan President, Joao Lourenço, under whose auspices a plan for a ceasefire and cantonment of the M23 was drawn in December 2022.

Congolese impotence

Since then, the implementation of this agreement has stalled. The Congolese therefore call on the international community to exert more pressure on Rwanda. In vain. This Congolese impotence is the expression of an unfavorable balance of power. The former Zaire is however 90 times larger than its neighbour, eight times more populated. It has considerable untapped mineral resources, where the main wealth of Rwanda, agriculture, is saturated by the record density of its population (511 inhabitants per square kilometer).

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