A View from Goma
The always-excellent Laura Seay offers an incredibly well-informed, thoroughly contextualized analysis of the recent rebellion in Congo’s Kivu provinces. Laura writes from Goma that the city has undergone an impressive transformation.
What just a few years ago was a tense city under frequent rumors of impending invasion by armed groups is now generally at peace. Where eight feet of solid lava rock buried buildings along the city’s main street after a 2002 volcanic eruption, there is now a well-paved road, streetlights, and shiny new, three-story buildings housing banks, shops, and businesses of every kind. That is not to say that all is perfect; inflation runs rampant, most roads are still rocky messes, and petty crime is a major problem. But it seems that after more than a decade of suffering the effects of war, Goma is finally on an upward trajectory. Goma’s recent prosperity is due in large part to the 2009 rapprochement between Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila and Rwandan leader Paul Kagame…While the situation after 2009 was far from ideal, the rapprochement mostly worked. To be sure, violence persisted in the Kivu provinces. The FDLR (a movement led by Rwandan Hutus who perpetrated the 1994 genocide) along with various local Mai Mai defense militias continued terrorizing civilians and fighting with the FARDC. But since signing the peace agreement, fighting between CNDP and FARDC forces ceased, calm was largely restored, and some displaced persons went home.”
But “That all changed in April when a group of former CNDP troops in the FARDC mutinied. Shortly thereafter, Ntaganda fled Goma for his rural farm in the Masisi mountains northwest of Goma where full-scale fighting between the FARDC and the mutineers quickly broke out in the area…Despite three weeks of shelling by FARDC forces, the mutineers–who have since named themselves M23, after the March 23 signing of the 2009 CNDP integration agreement–are still holding out.”