Coltan Heartland Seized: Rebels Capture Strategic Town in DR Congo

Rubaya, the epicenter of coltan mining, pivotal for mobile phone production, has fallen under rebel control in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, reveals a spokesman for the insurgents. Willy Ngoma disclosed that M23 fighters claimed Rubaya after fierce clashes with government forces on Tuesday.

While the government has yet to issue an official statement, a civil society activist affirmed M23’s occupation of the vital town. This development coincides with French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for neighboring Rwanda to cease support for the M23 rebel faction. Macron’s plea comes after discussions with DR Congo’s President FĂ©lix Tshisekedi in Paris.

Rwanda, repeatedly refuting allegations of backing the rebels, faces intensified scrutiny as M23 extends its territorial grip across the mineral-rich eastern region over the past year and a half. DR Congo stands as the world’s second-largest coltan producer, with Rubaya in the Masisi district serving as a primary mining hub. Coltan, essential for electric vehicle batteries and mobile phones, underscores the significance of Rubaya’s capture.

Accusations fly between DR Congo and Rwanda, with the former accusing the latter of plundering its mineral wealth, a claim vehemently denied by Kigali authorities. Ngoma clarified M23’s motives, citing the expulsion of perceived adversaries rather than mere resource acquisition.

Reports from Voltaire Sadiki, a civil society activist in Masisi, depict a tense scenario as rebels issue directives to civilians, urging them to surrender firearms while attempting to resume normalcy amidst the turmoil. Originating as deserters from the Congolese army, M23 alleges marginalization of the Tutsi minority and governmental reluctance to engage in negotiations. The verdant hills surrounding Masisi hold symbolic significance as the rebels’ ancestral land, according to their narrative.

President Tshisekedi portrays M23 as a pawn in Rwanda’s alleged expansionist agenda, a claim vehemently rejected by Kigali. As tensions escalate, the fate of Rubaya and its implications for the region’s stability hang in the balance.

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