Congolese Colonel Defects from the Army to join rebels

Col Aron Nyamushebwa

Col Aron Nyamushebwa has defected from the Democratic Republic of Congo army (FARDC) and joined Banyamulege vigilante groups who claim to be fighting to defend their motherland from an onslaught by the Mai Mai and anti-Nkurunziza rebels Red Tabara.

Nyamushebwa’s defection from the military in South Kivu comes 2 weeks after Col Michel Rukunda alias Makanika, who was the second in charge of operations and intelligence in the Walikale sector in North Kivu also defected.

The latter, however, dismissed reports that he had joined Gumino Militia of Banyamulenge, saying he had returned to fight killings in Minembwe

“I did not join Gumino or any other armed group in the DRC. I left to provide protection to thousands of our people who the DRC government has abandoned to be killed by the Mai-Mai and RED-Tabara rebels,” Colonel Rukunda said.

Since May last year, fighters of Mai-Mai, RED-Tabara and their foreign allies, under the watch of the DRC government attacked the Banyamulenge in the Minembwe area in South Kivu.

According to civil society groups in the area, to date, this alliance has killed up to 300 Banyamulenge, burned 10,000 houses, displaced over 500,000 and looted their property including 100,000.

The Banyamulenge leaders say they met President Tshisekedi, members of government and MONUSCO to talk about the massacres targeting their people and to ask for protection. Instead, they say, the government and its Army supported the attackers.

Last week Banyamulenge community leaders held a closed-door meeting in Kinshasa with Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo who has caused a regional storm after suggesting they are plans by neighboring country to annex eastern Congo