Kabila Rushes to Kampala as M23 Take Goma

2671 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in Kampala for crisis talks with President Yoweri Museveni over the fast-changing and volatile situation in North Kivu province.

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in Kampala for crisis talks with President Yoweri Museveni over the fast-changing and volatile situation in North Kivu province.
 
Kabila arrived in Kampala on Tuesday just as news filtered in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, fell to rebel soldiers of the Tutsi-dominated M23 rebels.
 
Uganda’s minister for International Affairs Okello Oryem confirmed President Kabila’s arrival in Kampala for the meeting which is also expected to be attended by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. President Museveni is the chair of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an inter-state platform aimed at ending the violence in the east of DRC.
 
Oryem, who said he was in a meeting with President Kabila, said he could not divulge much information at the moment, but confirmed that the meeting is over the conflict in eastern DR Congo.
 
Reports suggest that President Kabila arrived in the country at 2:00 pm on Tuesday direct from Kinshasa, meaning he left his capital in the morning.
 
The M23 rebels entered central Goma after Congolese government forces fled their positions abandoning heavy military hardware and armoured vehicles.
 
The M23 rebels say they have captured Goma, but this has not been independently confirmed. Goma is a city of about 500,000 people.
 
The rebel spokesman Colonel Vianney Kazarama told Reuters news agency that Goma fell at 11:33 local time, that is at half past noon in Uganda, despite the government forces having attack helicopters and heavy weapons.
 
News agencies are reporting that before President Kabila flew to Uganda, he called on people to "resist the rebels and defend the sovereignty of the DRC".
 
Aid agencies report that Goma residents as well as tens of thousands of internally displaced persons who had camped near the city have fled.
 
There are reports of dead bodies littering the streets and the hospitals reportedly have admitted dozens of civilians injured in crossfire. There are also reports of looting in the city.

The commander of United Nations peacekeepers in DR Congo, Lt-Gen Chandar Prakash, said the rebels had tried to attack his forces at the airport, but had been repelled. The UN has about 22,000 peacekeepers in DR Congo.
 
Rwanda has denied persistent accusations that it backs the M23 rebels. On Monday, it accused the Congolese army of deliberately firing across the border into its territory.
 
The upsurge in violence followed the Kabila government’s rejection of a 24-hour ultimatum by the M23 rebels for the government forces to withdraw from Goma.
  
The DRC accuses Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the M23 rebels, claims the two countries reject.