M23 Will Never Take Goma City-Kenyan Commander

The March 23 Movement (M23) rebels will never take Goma city, General Jeff Nyangah, the commander of the Kenyan troops deployed in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has vowed. Nyangah is heading hundreds of troops deployed under the East African Community member states to end insecurity in the area. 

The Kenyan troops are readying to face off with M23 rebels who have captured several areas in Rutshuru, Nyiragongo, Masisi, Bunagana, and Busanza/Kitagoma borders with the target of advancing to Goma city following the renewed clashes with DRC troops in March this year. Among the captured areas include Uganda DR Congo borders of Bunagana and Busanza/Kitagoma. 

Initially, the DRC President, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo said that Kenyan troops will step on DRC soil through the Bunagana border but some of them flew into Goma International Airport. Others and fighting equipment used the road via Uganda and Rwanda through Chanika and Gisenyi borders to connect to Goma.   

Speaking during the closure of the third round of the process for peace in eastern DRC at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi on Monday evening, General Nyangah gave an assurance that M23 will never take Goma City, saying this is an impossible mission.     

M23 is yet to respond to Genera Nyangah’s assurance.  After seven days of intense dialogue, the final report that includes the compilation of the various resolutions and recommendations resulting from the direct exchanges is expected later, according to reliable sources. M23 did not attend the dialogue.         

Silence of gun sounds has been observed on all the front lines since the weekend as both government troops and M23 rebels have not moved from their positions. No fighting has been reported between the government troops and rebels in Kishishe Bishusha Groupement, in the Bwito chiefdom, and Kisharu-Nyamilima-Ishasha road in the Bwisha chiefdom. 

But the presence of multiple armed groups targeting to face off with the M23 rebels in Kitshanga, Kibirizi, and Nyamilima in Rutshuru territory has thrown the locals into a panic. Meanwhile, business at the Uganda-DRC border of Ishasha in Kanungu district has stalled over the paralysis of transport along the Ishasha-Kiwanja-Rutshuru-Goma roaddue to the presence of M23 rebels in Kishishe and Kisharo, about 10 Kilometers from the Ishasha border.  

Trucks carrying goods are parked at the Ugandan side of the Ishasha border. The crisis has triggered concerns among local leaders due to the lack of social amenities for the drivers. The lack of accommodation facilities at Ishasha border is also burdening drivers as some of them are forced to sleep in trucks while others travel 10 kilometers to Kihihi town. 

Regan Mumbere, one of the truckers stuck at Ishasha border, says that he drove from Mombasa with hopes of using Ishasha to reach Goma since Katuna and Busanza/Kitagoma borders in Kisoro district are not operational since they fall under the rebels. He, however, says that upon his arrival at Ishasha, he found the situation undesirable inside DRC, which promoted him to park inside Uganda.                  

Mbonimpa Basa Bosa, another trucker says that however much the rebels are not restricting their movements, as drivers, they have received reports that they could be questioned in Goma for using the road controlled by the rebels. He says that they have decided to park their trucks inside Ugandan until the situation normalizes. 

Gad Rugaaju Ahimbisibwe, the Kanungu Deputy Resident District Commissioner says that due to current tension along the Ishasha-Rutshuru-Goma road, about 40 trucks are stuck at the Ishasha border while about 30 have re-routed to other safer border entries like Chanika in Kisoro district and Katuna in Kabale district.

Rugaaju also says that the tension has forced about 38 immigration officials who are still daring to remain on the DRC side to cross to Kihihi town in Kanungu for safety.                    

Sam Kajojo Arineitwe, the Kanungu District LC5 Chairperson, says that the presence of M23 rebels about 10 kilometers to the Ugandan border has also hampered trade between locals in  Kanungu and DR Congo. He has also raised concerns about the absence of sanitary facilities due to the lack of public toilets to handle such a huge number of truckers. 

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