Colonel Baudouin Ngaruye, top commander of defeated M23 rebels, in Kivu in March 2013. Sources close to him in Kigali have confirmed that 302 Rwandan Defense Forces troops were sent into Kinshasa on June 7, 2014, along with some M23 former rebels. The sources deny the involvement of M23 commanders in the decision.
“Last night, military planes carrying more than three hundred and two Rwandan soldiers and M23 former rebels landed here, at the Ndolo airport. I then saw a column of military truck carrying them towards the military camp of Kakolo,” sources at the Ndolo Airport in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, told AfroAmerica Network.
“We do not know the origin of the troops, except that a couple of hours before, we had received orders from the Office of the President [Joseph Kabila] and the security services to get the airport secured for an important guest,” the sources added.
According to other independent sources in Kinshasa, contacted by AfroAmerica Network, the troops came from Kigali, Rwanda. “Actually the planes that landed at the Ndolo Airport carried slightly less than 2 companies, the majority of whom are Rwandan Defense Special Forces and the rest were M23 former rebels. All spoke speak KiSwahili and French,” the independent sources, said, adding that other troops, about a company, entered Kinshasa from Brazzaville, Congo. They all went to camp Kakolo.
The reasons for the presence of Rwandan Special Forces in Kinshasa are not clear. Sources close to M23 commander Colonel Baudouin Ngaruye, who is in Kigali, Rwanda, confirmed to AfroAmerica Network that the troops were flown to Kinshasa, but denied that these troops are M23 rebels.
“No. these troops are not M23. We also learned that Joseph Kabila and General Paul Kagame have agreed, for unknown reasons, to have Rwandan Special Forces sent to Kinshasa, under the cover of M23. M23 had to provide a few soldiers who know North-Kivu very well. Rwandan Special Forces selected are those who speak Swahili and French. The reasons... we do not know. That is what we can say,” the sources said.
Recently, there have been tensions in Kinshasa between Joseph Kabila and his opposition. The opposition suspects Joseph Kabila of seeking to hold onto power after his term expires in 2 years.
Western diplomats in Kinshasa, including the US Special Representative in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region, Russell Feingold, and the UN Secretary General representative Martin Kobler, recently expressed their desire to see Joseph Kabila step aside after his current terms. Joseph Kabila has reacted angrily and accused the diplomats of interfering in Congolese internal affairs.
There are fears that if Joseph Kabila decides to go on with his plan, there will be violence in Kinshasa. It is believed that the Rwandan Special Forces in Kinshasa may be there to preempt and eventually repress any protest.
Others observers say that the forces will rather be sent in Eastern DRC, to reinforce if not take the command of FARDC operations so that they may recreate conditions for M23 rebels to reintegrate FARDC troops, without being forced to agree to the terms of the disarmament. Last week, a DRC government delegation had traveled to Kigali to get M23 rebels to sign the disarmament agreements. The DRC Government delegation was turned down and return to Kinshasa without any M23 rebel signing the documents.