Skip to main content

When Congo's army retreated in panic from the eastern city of Goma last month, many observers blamed the poor morale and leadership, ill discipline and corruption that have sapped its fighting capacity for years.

In the hours before Goma fell to M23 rebels on Nov. 20, drunk and terrified Congolese soldiers roamed the streets or huddled in doorways before melting away, witnesses said.

M23's 11-day occupation of the city was one of the worst battlefield defeats for the DRC's armed forces, which at 150,000-strong are among the largest in Africa. They are also backed by 17,000 UN peacekeepers.

Story continues below advertisement

As recriminations swirl over the Goma defeat, which forced President Joseph Kabila to accept talks with a group he says is a creation of Rwanda, allegations have emerged that betrayal in the army's ranks may have led to the rout. M23 representatives did not show up at a crucial meeting of the talks on Monday in Uganda.

The Congolese government has launched an investigation into the army's actions in Goma, but little evidence has come to light beyond anonymous allegations against officers from subordinates who accuse their commanders of selling them out. "All of our intelligence was given to M23," alleged a senior army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because army regulations forbid him from commenting publicly.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.