DR Congo opposition figure announces alliance with rebels

Friday December 15 2023

Alliance Fleuve Congo leader Corneille Nangaa addressing journalists during the launch of the movement in Serena Hotel Nairobi, Kenya on December 15, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG


A Congolese opposition figure, living in exile, on Friday announced the creation of a political-military alliance with M23 rebels and other armed groups in order to "save the country".

With the political and security climate in the Democratic Republic of Congo extremely tense in the run-up to December 20 elections, Corneille Nangaa, ex-head of the country's electoral commission, made the announcement in Nairobi, Kenya.

Standing alongside him in a hotel in the Kenyan capital was M23 "president" Bertrand Bisimwa.


Alliance Fleuve Congo leadership team Corneille Nangaa (L) and Bertrand Bisimwa during the launch of the movement in Serena Hotel Nairobi, Kenya on December 15, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

After several years of dormancy, the M23 ("March 23 Movement") rebels took up arms again in late 2021 and, with the help of the Rwandan army, seized vast swathes of the province of North Kivu in the east of the DRC.

Read: Rwanda, DR Congo differ on M23 threat


Their actions caused more than a million people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Nangaa, who was president of the Ceni, DRC electoral commission, in the 2018 polls but now lives in exile, called for "the union of all political, social and military forces" to "rebuild the state" and "restore peace" in the impoverished, conflict-torn nation.

Read: Tshisekedi declared winner of DRC presidential poll

He said that at least nine armed groups, including the M23, had already joined him in his "Congo River Alliance" project for "national unity and stability".

He justified its creation as a response to the "weakness" of the Congolese state over three decades and its "inability to restore authority... throughout the country".

Some seven million Congolese are currently displaced within their own country, mainly as a result of armed conflicts and insecurity, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

In recent months, a series of clashes between Nangaa and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi have hit the headlines.

In an October interview with France 24, Nangaa claimed that during the 2018 election, when he was in charge of the electoral process, a "power-sharing agreement" had been agreed between Tshisekedi and former president Joseph Kabila, which was "validated and certified" by "the South African president, the former Kenyan president and the Egyptian president".

Martin Fayulu, unsuccessful candidate in the 2018 presidential election, claimed to have won with 61 percent of the vote and denounced an "electoral putsch" engineered by Kabila and Tshisekedi.

Read: DRC election: Fayulu appeals against result

France's foreign minister at the time, Jean-Yves Le Drian, spoke of an "African-style compromise". 

Tshisekedi, who is running for re-election next week, denies any "fraudulent arrangement" with his predecessor.