Congo's M23 rebel sect ends its fight
KINSHASA, Congo — One of Congo's most feared rebel groups declared an end to its violent insurgency on Tuesday after a string of defeats at the hands of Congolese army forces backed by a new U.N. combat brigade.
The conclusion of the M23 movement's 20-month-long military rebellion provides a note of hope in the Central African country, where more than 5 million people have died of war-related causes since 1998. But it highlights the many difficulties that must be surmounted before a sustainable peace can be achieved.
More than 40 militias and rebel groups still terrorize communities in Congo, which is about the size of Western Europe, and pillage its vast mineral wealth, including gold, tin and copper. Major grievances continue to fester among the country's ethnic Tutsis, who formed the core of the M23 rebels. M23 political leaders have vowed that another ethnic Tutsi rebel group will rise up if they are defeated or if their demands are not met at the negotiating table.
Indeed, a crucial test is whether the government and the rebels, who are mostly disaffected Congolese soldiers, will be able to forge a political resolution, especially on issues such as amnesty and reintegration of the rebels into the national army.