Despite the international pressure, President Kagame remains defiant. For a month now, North Kivu civil society and others have reported increased crossings of Rwandan soldiers into DRC to help M23 and have called on the international community to take appropriate measures. They have identified among many Colonel Bingira, a Rwanda military officer who is currently commanding Rwandan and M23 troops.
The same source reported that Rwanda has put Mr. Laurent Nkunda back in the game, whose presence was reported at a high level meeting between M23 leadership and newly arrived Rwandan troops in Rumangabo military base on May 11, 2013. Laurent Nkunda is the former leader of this same rebel movement when it was called the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). He currently lives with impunity across the border in Rwanda where he continues to play a key role in the M23 rebellion. Advocacy groups have asked the Rwandan government to hand him over to DRC’s authorities or send exile him far from the region. The current M23 leader is Nkunda’s brother in-law.
Physical and economic terror reigns in M23 controlled areas. The rebels rape, kill, loot, and forcefully recruit soldiers, even children. Communities may be forced into monthly or weekly extortion taxes, be forced to endure checkpoints on roads and in markets, or have family members kidnapped for ransom.
After months of calm while the governments negotiated with M23 leadership, the rebels have resumed hostilities in an effort to take the city of Goma before the UN combat battalion begins its mission. Under UN Resolution 2098, this battalion has an offensive mandate to once and for all dismantle the multiple rebel groups in DRC. Soldiers from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania compose the battalion; some soldiers are already in DRC.
On Tuesday, May 21, in Gisenyi, the Rwandan border city to Goma, General Ruvusha, a Rwandan officer, chaired a meeting with M23 leadership and committed to send 2 additional battalions to help capture the city of Goma as quickly as possible. The evening of Wednesday May 22, M23 started shelling the city of Goma.