M23 rebels today captured Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 well armed rebels easily defeated the Congo government army as thousands of UN peacekeepers stood by and watched. Only days earlier, the UN had sent attack helicopters against the rebels, but they avoided all conflict once the fighting turned against them. There are 22,000 UN soldiers in Congo. In July, they had vowed to protect Goma from advancing rebels. It is a disgraceful days for the UN and the Congo government.

Rebels soldiers bypass UN peacekeepers in Goma

The issue now of course is what’s next? The rebels had previously vowed to continue south to capture Bukavu, but there are only so many of them and they don’t want to get stretched too thin. Will they gain additional support from Tutsi within Congo or crossing from Rwanda? Will the international community respond against Rwanda? Will this create political uncertainty for the Kabila government in Kinshasha?

Update link:
Protests erupt against the UN and the Congo government. The North Kivu provincial government will move to Beni from Goma.