Congo: Pushing Out The Peacekeepers



Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

April 13, 2010: Congolese opposition groups are forming a new coalition called the Alliance for Maintaining the Peace Agreement of Goma (also CALELD the Goma Alliance). CALELD will include at least 17 rebel organizations, most of them in the eastern Congo. However, the idea is to coordinate opposition to the government and president Kabila. One of the key rebel groups is the Mai Mai Kifuafua (MMK) militia. The MMK objected to the fact its leaders were denied government jobs that it argued were promised in previous peace agreements. Former members of General Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for Defense of the People (CNDP) are also prominent in the new coalition.

April 12, 2010: Canada has offered to send more troops to MONUC (UN Mission in the Congo). Canada is withdrawing its forces in Afghanistan.

April 11, 2010: The UN has released a sketch of what could become MONUC's withdrawal plan from the Congo. This would take place over a three year period. This conflict's with the Congolese government's stated desire that MONUC withdraw by the end of 2011. The government wants to demonstrate that it does not depend on UN forces. Unfortunately, the government does depend on UN forces. Most Congolese Army units are poorly trained and equipped. The handful with decent equipment are essentially presidential guard units. Though fighting has tapered off in the east, North and South Kivu provinces remain unstable. The northern Congo has a raging inter-tribal conflict, between the Enyele and the Manzaya. Tribal rivalries have simmered for years in the area (Equateur province), but a disagreement over fishing rights turned into a tribal bloodletting which has become a war. The Lords Resistance Army (LRA), still terrorizes the northeastern corner of the Congo. UN units serve as rapid reaction forces. The Congolese military is also distrusted by many Congolese.

April 10, 2010: The government claimed that the Congolese Army killed 12 Enyele tribesmen and arrested 35 during counter-insurgency operations in Equateur province in early March. The Enyele (described as rebels) were killed in operations around the town of Mbandaka (capital of Equateur province).

April 9, 2010: The government claimed that a UN force in the town of Mbandaka failed to adequately protect threatened Congolese civilians when they were attacked by a rebel force on April 4.

April 5, 2010: The government and UN reported that the Congolese Army and MONUC troops had regained control of the Mbandaka airfield, after a battling Enyele rebels who launched a surprise attack on April 4. The reported casualties indicate a fairly vigorous firefight in the city and particularly around the airfield: seven Congolese soldiers killed, three Congolese policemen, and 21 Enyele rebels. The UN reported that two UN workers were slain in the city and one peacekeeping soldier (from a Ghanian detachment) was killed. The UN estimated the attacking Eneyele force had an estimated 100 to 150 fighters. With 21 dead, that means 15 to 20 percent were killed in action.

April 4, 2010: A group of Enyele rebels landed by boat in the town of Mbandaka (Equateur province) and launched a series of attacks. The rebel force attacked the governor's home and took control of the airfield. The rebels also attacked a church.

March 28, 2010: MONUC is considering reinforcing its peacekeeping contingent in the northeastern Congo. International rights organizations and a number of Congolese tribes are complaining that the Congolese Army is incapable of protecting civilians threatened by the LRA. At the moment the UN has around 1000 troops stationed in the region –which is very few, given the size of the region and the tough terrain.




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