THE first act of the rebel army that conquered Goma, a city in eastern Congo, on November 20th was to march up to the border with neighbouring Rwanda, as if for a celebratory inspection. A few hundred fighters with Kalashnikov rifles paraded past the silent guns of the United Nations peacekeepers, who were meant to defend the lakeside city and keep the rebels out. The ill-disciplined Congolese national army had already fled. A spokesman for the rebels, who call themselves M23, said they were going to “greet their friends”. On the Rwandan side of the border a crowd gathered to cheer.
There is now a real risk of a new war breaking out in this troubled, mineral-rich part of central Africa which, from 1998 until 2003, experienced the most lethal conflict since the second world war. What happens next hinges on the true nature of the relations between Rwanda and M23, a group that was born seven months ago and draws its name from an attempted peace deal signed on March 23rd, 2009.
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