M23 rebels are said to be extorting hefty taxes from people and imposing new traditional leaders in places on their control.The leaders being replaced are those who fled from the insurgency ,AFP reports
In the Buhamba sector, Makombe, the traditional chief recognised in law, has been replaced by Rusisi, who escaped from the Munzenze prison in Goma”, the provincial capital occupied by M23 for 11 days at the end of November, said Etienne Kambale, of the federation of civil society non-governmental organisations in North Kivu.
A source close to Makombe gave a different slant on the handover. “Makombe, for security reasons, chose not to remain in a zone under rebel control. There are people thirsty for power who are looking for us,” he added, blaming M23 and asking not to be named.
The divisional chief responsible for the interior of North Kivu, Aloys Majune, declined to comment. “This is a rebellion. We can’t say anything,” he told AFP.
The rebels have also advanced to the use of official forms of the General Tax Directorate, to which it has added its own insignia, a local businessman said.
“… We detest …the payment of customs duties on our merchandise. How do you expect us to pay customs on goods that come from Goma? In the DRC? This is a joke and it discourages us,” a trader named Janvier said.
“We pay 40% of our income to M23 every day. … For our vehicle, there’s a toll fee of $5 and for free passage, we pay $5 to M23′s traffic police,” said an official in the Association of Road Haulage Drivers of the Congo (Acco) in Rutshuru.
“There’s no lack of other hassles,” he added. “In all, the driver pays $5 for a bus. For a lorry, it’s bad – you need $320 per vehicle, of which $20 pays the toll and $300 pays the tax on the goods.”
The M23 rebels have held a long rebellion in Eastern DRC ,causing the displacement and death of people.They demand the implementation of a peace accord signed on March 23, 2009.
Currently peace talks between the DRC government and the rebels are currently going on in Kampala ,Uganda ,they are being facilitated by Uganda’s defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga.The talks aim at finding a peaceful solution to the on-going conflict in the provinces of South and North Kivu.