To the layman the emergence of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) armed group M23 might be seen as of little significance - just another band of gunmen controlling a few square kilometres of turf in a country the size of western Europe.
“This [M23] is a new configuration and a serious development. More than 200,000 people have been displaced since April [because of M23],” Rupert Colville, a Geneva-based spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights, told IRIN.
In late March 2012 Gen Bosco Ntaganda, a senior officer in the DRC national army (FARDC), led a mutiny of 300-600 soldiers following discontent over unpaid wages and poor living conditions.
Ntaganda (known locally as the “terminator”) was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2006 for war crimes. On 3 May 2012 Col Sultani Makenga began an apparently separate revolt. Both men were formerly part of Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a former DRC militia backed by neighbouring Rwanda, before it was integrated into the FARDC as part of the 23 March 2009 peace agreement.