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Will Jones writes for Politics in Spires about the M23 rebel group's seizure of the strategic city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo

IRIN / Jessica Hatcher / 2012
Police and civilians listen to an address by M23 spokesman Lt Vianney Kazarama in Goma yesterday

Goma has fallen. It had at 2pm on Tuesday, at least. This sprawling city of a million people, built on and out of volcanic rock on the shores of an exploding lake has become synonymous – insofar as it comes to the attention of the wider world at all – with catastrophic refugee crises, ecological devastation, and looting and pillaging. This week will do nothing to change that script. The villains in this particular script are a rebel group with the strange name of M23, (not to be confused with these guys), which launched in April of this year, ostensibly over broken promises made in the agreement of March 23rd (hence the name). This is only the latest in the alphabet soup of armed groups in Eastern Congo (ADFL, UPC, RCD, FDLR, ALIR, CNDP, and so on ad nauseam). Both the United Nations Panel of Experts and Human Rights Watch have alleged that the Rwandan government is aiding and abetting this rebellion, if not actually directing it. Rwanda has vigorously denied the allegations, and at least some academics are inclined to leave the jury out on such claims for the moment.


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