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Congo-Kinshasa: M23's Congo Cadres - the Rebel Movement With a Taste.

Kampala 23 October 2013-While peace talks stretch on in Kampala, the M23 is teaching hundreds of new officials about Che Guevara, Gandhi and how to get ahead in regional governance.

Bunagana, Democratic Republic of Congo - Tuesday is market day in the town of Bunagana in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Men carry chickens tied by their legs through the crowd, while women sit idly by ancient sewing machines ready to lend their services.

These are the few vendors who, despite the fighting in nearby Goma, have made the trek to sell their goods at higher than normal prices to the customers of the border town. The close presence of three cadres, or political officers, belonging to the militant group M23 is testament to Bunagana's status as the de facto rebel capital.

A vendor approaches the M23 officials, showing them his half empty box of mobile phone credit vouchers. He claims the other half was stolen by men still in the market. Leon, the most senior of the cadres, is the only one wearing a semblance of a uniform. His blue jeans, casual white and blue shirt, and thick gold chain are offset by a camouflaged jacket and cap. After listening to the accusations, he carefully instructs his comrades to circle the presumed location of the thief. Meanwhile, he and the accuser approach the stall directly.

Getting organised The M23 is mostly made up of ex-members of the former rebel group, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), and takes its name from the 23 March 2009 agreement reached between the CNDP and the Congolese government. The soldiers who formed the M23 and rebelled against Kinshasa in July 2012 cited poor conditions and the government's failure to properly implement the March 23 treaty.

The M23 initially recorded a number of battle victories and since summer 2012, the rebels have seized roughly 700 square km of eastern DRC, home to nearly half a million people. And with most local government administrators having fled, the M23 has relied on recruiting and training a class of its own cadres to administer the area under its control. Now, of the dozens of armed groups in the region - ranging from the Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels to various local Mai-Mai militias - M23 is perhaps the most organised.

Unlike some other forces in the region, M23 also has a relatively clear ideology - one which is broadly based on ideas of social justice with calls for improved administration in the eastern DRC, the removal of the anti-Rwandan FDLR rebels, and an end to discrimination against the Rwandaphone community.

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Publication:Sudan News Agency
Geographic Code:6ZAIR
Date:Oct 23, 2013
Words:452
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