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PoliticsDemocratic Republic of Congo

DRC opposition leader: M23 crisis is just like Ukraine war

Josephine Mahachi | Isaac Kaledzi
November 10, 2022

The Congolese opposition leader is calling on the international community to focus on the crisis in his country. Martin Fayulu told DW's Josey Mahachie that he believes Rwanda and Uganda are propping up M23 rebels.

Martin Fayulu
Martin Fayulu cames to DW's headquarters in Bonn, GermanyImage: Dirke Köpp/DW

DW: There is a crisis in your country with the M23 rebels. Can you tell us more about that? What is the situation exactly like on the ground?

Martin Madidi Fayulu: In short, the M23 are not rebels. They are Rwandees (sic) that were put in Congo by (Rwandan President Paul) Kagame to destabilize Congo because his objective is to get part of Congo. His (other) objective is to get a hold of Congolese minerals. … And the third objective is to displace the Congolese and to put some Rwandees in our territories. 

This is the situation we are having now. This war is caused by Mr. Kagame and also by Uganda. Uganda doesn't want to stay behind and let Kagame do what he wants to do. (Uganda) also wants a portion of Congolese resources.

But it has been more than ten years since the M23 movement was formed. Why has it taken so long for the DRC government to tackle this crisis?

It is still taking long because all governments in Congo have been put in place by Mr. Kagame. (Former President Joseph) Kabila was a proxy put in place by Kagame, and when Kabila was leaving, they tried to find someone to replace him. They negotiated and signed a deal between Kagame, Kabila and Felix Tshisekedi. That is why they put Tshisekedi in the seat of the presidency. 

Then you have the army, where many people who are Rwandees are working for Mr. Kagame. That is why is it becoming very difficult to end this crisis.

Villagers in DR Congo live in fear of M23

If you were the president today what would you have done differently from what President Felix Tshisekedi is doing to try and solve this crisis?

The first thing is to stop corruption. Take the country’s money and form an army, a strong army and send them to fight. … Also, I would discuss (the situation) with the UN, AU and countries like Germany, France, European Union. 

We need peace, and (the international community) has to do for us what you are doing with Ukraine. Ukraine is having a problem, you are condemning. And we are having a problem in Congo, but nobody is condemning Rwanda. Why?

The US embassy in Kinshasa has issued a security alert that there will be protests taking place from today on. What exactly are people protesting?

The protest is because the Congolese want to protect their country. We want to demonstrate that we are against Rwanda. Rwanda should take its people, its members of the M23, out. 

This is not just a protest. We are not protesting for something. We are saying the whole world has to comprehend that Congo has been attacked by Rwanda and Uganda, and that they have to take some decisions to condemn those countries.

Protest in Goma
Protestors in Goma accuse Rwanda of propping up M23 rebelsImage: Aubin Mukoni/AFP

During recent protests, we have seen young people in DRC calling on Russia to assist. Do you think Russia can help in any way?

No, I think we, the Congolese, have to help ourselves. It is not a matter of calling somebody to help. What we are saying to the international community (is that) we are a member of the UN.

They have to see what the provisions in the United Nations are, and then they have to implement them. They have to take sanctions against Rwanda. They have to take sanctions against Uganda.

Yet everybody is talking about Ukraine. Yes, we have to talk about Ukraine but we also have to talk about Congo. Congo has the rain forest, Congo has copper, Congo has cobalt, Congo has lithium, and all those natural resources, those minerals are needed for the world’s energy transition. But why is it that you leave that country alone, an important country for the whole world?

Kenyan forces are already in DRC under the African transitional mission. But we know from reports that Kenya was allegedly involved in some shady deals in Somalia. What do you make of their presence in DRC?

You said (something) about a shady deal in Somalia. Can you really say that Kenya would go and fight against Rwandees? For me, it is a joke. We are not in Eastern Africa, we are in central Africa. The solution should be in central Africa, with the AU and the UN. We also want to change the mandate of the UN’s MONUSCO (mission) and use it to stabilize the Congo. Because we have no stability today. We want a robust UN mission in Congo, which will fight against the external M23 army. 

My party had a convention last July, and we have (come up with) a manifesto with 18 challenges. We want to implement those so we can have prosperity in Congo.

Felix Tshisekedi and Paul Kagame during a meeting in May 2021
In DRC, there are rumors alleging that DRC President Felix Tshisekedi (l.) and Rwandan President Paul Kagame have a secret dealImage: SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP/Getty Images

What are your top five points on your manifesto?

First of all, we have the four pre-requisites: Rule of law, integrity of our country, national cohesion and good governance.
Then you come to the second stage, which is our priorities. Our first priority is education. Second is agriculture, as we have to feed our people. … Three, we need infrastructure. And then four: we need clean water, electricity and healthcare. 

Then there are other priorities: We want to protect the environment as a priority. Another priority is entrepreneurship. We have to ask ourselves: How can we team up with those companies coming from abroad and maximize the development of our country?

Elections are coming up next year in DRC, and you are in the opposition. We understand that you are going to be running in the upcoming elections, right?

Sure, because the Congolese people want me to run. They put me there, and I think that I owe them that. If they say, ‘Mr. Fayulu we think that we don't need you anymore,’ that’s ok.

You still believe you are the one who won the 2018 election. How will the next elections be more transparent?

All stakeholders have to agree on the rule of the game. This means to agree on an electoral commission, to agree on the electoral law, to agree on the electoral calendar, and to agree on the safety and security of all during the election. We need a good, impartial and credible election. That’s what democracy means, and the world needs democracy.

But what we have today is a dictatorship.

Thank you so much for the interview, Mr. Fayulu.

Refugees registering in Uganda
The fighting between the government and M23 rebels has resulted in a wave of displacement across the regionImage: Badru Katumba/AFP/Getty Images

Martin Madidi Fayulu is the opposition leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The leader of the "Engagement for Citizenship and Development Party" has declared he will compete in the 2023 election against incumbent president, Felix Tshisekedi.

Edited for length and content by Sertan Sanderson


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