Rwanda: Absence of Security Gave Birth to M23 Rebellion – Ambassador Karega

The 23 rebellion and its predecessors like the CNDP and RCD-Goma are a result of longstanding security threat posed by militias heated up by genocide ideology, Rwanda’s former ambassador to DR Congo Vincent Karega said.

Speaking on The Long Form podcast, hosted by Sanny Ntayombya, Karega said that these armed groups were created as “self-defence” mechanisms for the Congolese Tutsi communities that were threatened by militias like the FDLR and Mai Mai.

Long before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Kinyarwanda-speaking Tutsi communities in DR Congo were discriminated and despised as Rwandans.

The influx of the Interahamwe and members of the former Rwandan army into DR Congo in 1994 exacerbated the ideology of genocide this time targeting the Congolese Tutsi. It also fed into discriminatory tendencies that claimed that the Congolese natives of the Kivu regions and the Rwandan migrants who had been naturalised were ‘Congolese of doubtful nationality.’

“These people had to fight to reconfirm their nationality,” said Karega, adding that the “Rwandophones were politically becoming fragile.” That is how the RCD-Goma was created in late 1990s in rebellion to Laurent Desire Kabila’s divisive politics that side-lined the Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese Tutsi.

In the 2000s, the armed group CNDP was born with Laurent Nkunda at its head. On March 23, 2009, the CNDP reached a peace deal with the Congolese government to integrate the rebels into the national army and the political wing becoming a party.