The battle for control in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is coming to a head as the country prepares for presidential elections. Eastern regions of the DRC are still at the mercy of armed groups and the Congolese armed forces, who have all been accused of committing serious abuses against civilians.
The rebel M23 group was defeated in eastern DRC in late 2013, after a 20-month campaign led by the Congolese army and backed by thousands of UN fighters, but civilians are still living in fear of sexual violence, kidnappings and killings. Conflict rages over control of land, mineral resources, and ethnic division.
Significant obstacles to the nation's transition to stability and democracy still remain in the form of more than 50 different armed groups operating in DRC's eastern borderlands.
"While some have a few thousands of combatants (such as the FDLR) and highly sophisticated structures of command, including supply and training, others are 10 or 20 people rag-tag gangs whose composition can change on a weekly basis," according to political analyst Christoph Vogel.
In this series, IBTimes UK takes a closer look at the armed groups fighting in the eastern regions of South and North Kivu.
Battle for control of the DRC
Check out our Flipboard magazine - Who's who in the battle for DRC by IBTimes UK
FDLR has been one of the most abusive armed groups in eastern Congo over the past two decades.
Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan-led Islamist armed group, is one of the oldest in DRC.
Mai-Mai groups are the most prolific recruiters of child soldiers and perpetrators of human rights abuses.
Nyatura, a Congolese Hutu militia, collaborated with FDLR rebels and the Congolese army to defeat M23.
In 2009 the CNDP became a political party and 3,000 - 4,000 of its fighters joined the Congolese army.
Joseph Kony took over as leader of the Holy Spirit Movement and re-branded it as the Lord's Resistance Army.
Raia Mutomboki started operating in 2011 for self-defence against attacks perpetrated by the FDLR.
FRPI have been an active armed militia and political party in DRC's north-eastern region of Ituri.
FPLC was involved in human rights violations including ethnic killings, torture, rape, and mutilation.
After the Second Congo War came a new unified national army supposed to integrate various armed groups.
After attacking Dongo MILIA carried out targeted killings against the Boba before moving southwards.