DRC Military Accuses Civilians, Including Deputies, of Espionage for M23

Kinshasa, March 8, 2024- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s military revealed the detention of four civilians accused of espionage and recruitment activities on behalf of the M23 rebel group in the city of Goma, North Kivu Province. Among the detainees are two provincial deputies, underscoring the gravity of the allegations.

The individuals were showcased to the media at a military intelligence branch in Kinshasa, wearing distinctive yellow and red garments, indicating their detainee status. Major General Sylvain Ekenge, spokesperson for the Congolese military, identified one of the deputies as Hope Sabini Kibuya, accusing him of leading efforts to recruit supporters for the M23 group, along with the co-accused.

Aliongera Alain, another deputy from the North Kivu provincial assembly, was also implicated in the espionage charges. The group of accused includes a tourism expert and governmental advisor of North Kivu, and a motorcycle taxi operator allegedly collaborating with the deputies.

Major General Ekenge did not allow the accused to respond to the charges during the presentation. The accusations against them encompass recruiting fighters and supporters for M23, supplying the group with necessities, and conducting espionage activities. Ekenge labeled the accused as “traitors collaborating with M23 and the Rwandan military,” stating that others caught in similar operations would be disclosed in due time.

Rwanda has consistently denied any involvement with the M23, which has yet to comment on the accusations against the individuals presented. The ongoing conflict between the M23 and the Congolese government forces, along with their allies, has escalated tensions in the regions of Masisi, Rutshuru, and Nyiragongo, close to Goma, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.