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M23 rebels vow to take Congo as troops defect

By The Associated Press

This article was published November 21, 2012 at 8:14 a.m.

— Thousands of Congolese soldiers and policemen defected to the M23 rebels Wednesday as rebel leaders vowed to take control of all Congo, including the capital, Kinshasa.

“We are now going to Kinshasa. No one will divide this country,” said Col. Vianney Kazarama, the M23 spokesman, to a cheering crowd of thousands.

The rebels organized the rally at Goma’s Stadium of Volcanoes after seizing control of the strategic city in eastern Congo Tuesday.

Kazarama first welcomed the crowd in Swahili by shouting “Goma Jambo!” meaning “Hello Goma!”

Kazarama said the M23 rebels’ next goal is Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province on the other side of Lake Kivu. He claimed the rebels already control the town of Sake, 17 miles from Goma on the road to Bukavu, and will soon take Minova, a lakeside town in South Kivu.

More than 2,100 army troops and 700 police turned in their weapons, according to M23’s Col. Seraphin Mirindi. The former army troops and policemen piled up their arms and ammunition in the stadium.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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