The M23 Congolese rebel group (Guardian), widely thought to be backed by the Rwandan government, has been making significant gains in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks. The rebels occupied the vital city of Goma for ten days in late November, but withdrew this past weekend amid mounting international pressure. The rebels were largely disenfranchised by the internationally mediated peace process following Congo's 1996 – 2003 war, and their interests in eastern Congo relate both to economics and security, explains Jason Stearns of the Rift Valley Institute. The M23 pulled out from Goma because they needed a "PR boost," says Stearns. But, he warns, the distrust between the Congolese government and the rebels make potential negotiations difficult. "The prospects for a comprehensive deal that would lead to a demobilization and reintegration of the rebels are probably still slim," Stearns says.
Congo's Weak Peace Process