Congo: Rebel Killers Demand Amnesty

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

March 6, 2007: Reports began to appear in late February that he might not exist. And now it turns out that the Congolese may have elected "a ghost minister." Though the elections were judged a political success, the fact that "Trade Minister Andre Kasongo Ilunga" has failed to materialize is certainly an embarrassment. Ilunga was allegedly a member of the UNAFEC party (in an alliance with President Joseph Kabila). The new government acknowledges that Ilunga has "missed meetings." Congolese media are looking for him and now refer to him as a "ghost" or a "phantom." UNAFEC members are now pointing fingers at one another. How could this happen? It is possible Ilunga will turn up. However, it's also another indication (albeit it a humorous one) that corruption and chaos plague the Congo.

March 5, 2007: India sent 70 more troops from an army aviation unit to the Congo. The aviation unit will initially serve in Katanga province and serve as part of India's 301st brigade. The unit is part of a "Reconnaissance and Observation Flight" (Ceetah light helicopter unit). India currently has 9,000 military personnel serving around the world on UN missions.

March 1, 2007: Members of the Front des Nationalistes and Integrationnistes militia (FNI) had begun to disarm and demobilize. The FNI originally agreed in November 2006 to demobilize, but reneged on the deal. The FNI clashed with UN and Congolese Army troops in December 2006. The UN responded in late January by launching a series of counter-militia operations. At least 50 FNI militiamen died in those operations. MONUC regards the "FNI operation" as a success, in part because the operations cut off the FNI "from its supply chain" (indicating that the FNI may have been receiving support from outside the Congo). The FNI is led by Peter Karim, a militia leader sought by the UN for war crimes and described by many human rights workers as one of the more violent commanders. The FNI made MONUC's "list" because in 2006 FNI militiamen killed two UN peacekeepers and took another seven hostage. The FNI now wants to make a deal. On March 1 FNI demobilized 170 soldiers (42 of them were children). Karim also demanded amnesty. The amnesty demand is a dilemma. It's good he has brought his militia "in from the bush", but Karim has committed crimes against Congolese civilians and killed UN peacekeepers.

 

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