By Alex Muhumuza
Several websites and social media accounts run by Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) have gone into a frenzy of manufacturing stories, alleging that “M23 attacked DRC from Rwanda”, after gunmen said to belong to the group seized at least two Congolese villages – Tshanzu and Runyoni – in the evening of last Sunday.
Chimpreports, one of the major outlets of CMI misinformation has since this Monday published at least three stories in quick succession disseminating the fictitious story. “The M23, who are said to be supported by the Rwandan government, were part of the DRC army who broke ranks in 2012 to start an armed rebellion in Eastern Congo,” Chimpreports writes in one of its articles.
But Bertrand Bisimwa, current President of the M23 has denied that the group was responsible for the attack, which raises two questions: how did Kampala propagandists reach their conclusion? What was the source of their story?
Chimpreports’ article, in its trademark style of just inventing stuff as they go along, also claims that “M23 was an extension of Rwanda Defence Force,” allegedly created to counter Rwandan rebel movements in North Kivu. This is another lie, just like the claim that the attackers (of the two Congolese villages) originated from Rwanda.
They were from Uganda, and when Congolese forces repulsed them, they fled back to Uganda.
Rwanda has nothing to do with the creation of M23, as facts show. M23 was a Congolese military splinter group that turned its guns on the government of former DRC president Joseph Kabila after the latter reneged on key parts of agreements on integration of forces representing the east in their country’s army.
After their rebellion was defeated in 2013, the M23 fighters and their leaders including its commander Sultan Makenga retreated to Uganda.
However as is always the case with Uganda’s president Museveni, other than have the men disarmed and put in refugee camps – as international convention demands – he instead saw an opportunity, long term, to put them to his own use. Museveni put CMI in charge of the 1377 M23 fighters, who were installed in Uganda’s Bihanga Military Camp.
Uganda claimed that they “would be repatriated from there”, but security analysts were already questioning: why put these men up in a military camp, for what purpose?”
Uganda even claimed, in 2014, that it was “working closely with Congolese authorities on the return of the M23 fighters.”
But Kampala did not repatriate even one fighter. Rather, in 2017 Uganda claimed that “M23 fighters had escaped”, something that caused serious tensions with DRC.
The Congolese were right to be concerned with Kampala’s dubious story that a group of men it supposedly had in safe keeping somehow had broken loose and fled.
Museveni is well known to have a thirst for the minerals and other resources of the DRC that is like a raging addiction.
“Even in his sleep Museveni dreams Congolese gold and timber!” laughed a Kampala-based observer. Uganda in 2005 was slapped with a US$ 10 billion in damages by the International Court of Justice, awarded to DRC as a victim of Museveni’s military, UPDF’s looting of Congolese resources, as well as human rights abuses against civilians.
With the M23, Museveni’s sinister motive in keeping them in military camps was to use them – at a time of his own choosing – to attack in DRC. Which they did Sunday evening.
As usual Museveni planned to use Rwanda as a convenient scapegoat, by causing chaos to distract the world’s attention and then, if they succeeded, sending UPDF into the neighboring country on looting sprees. But they have been repulsed, according to the latest news.
By Tuesday morning, yesterday, the Rwanda Defense Forces had come out with a statement to set the record straight. “The Rwanda Defense Force is neither involved in, nor supports any activities of the ex-M23 armed group,” said the RDF statement.
It continued: “the ex-M23 group in question did not seek refuge in Rwanda during their retreat from DRC in 2013, but has been based in Uganda, from where their attack originated, and to where the armed group originated.” The statement concluded that any allegations that the attack came from Rwanda, “is just propaganda aimed at undermining the good relations between Rwanda and DRC.”
Apparently Kampala thought they could kill two birds with one stone: instigate an attack that would create a means to enter Congo, while disrupting Kigali and Kinshasa’s peaceful co-existence.
It is turning out to be just another of Museveni’s blunders.