Congo: Peace Efforts Backfire

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

July 7, 2007: The government is facing increasingly harsh criticism from European Union diplomats, UN administrators, and non-governmental organizations working inside the country. Since opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba fled the country, the Kabila government has become tougher and tougher on its opponents - what its critics claimed it would do if Joseph Kabila were re-elected president. The buzz word (or euphemism) is "authoritarian drift." Several weeks ago other opposition political groups began echoing demands by Bemba's supporters that he be allowed to return to the Congo and - a very important and-his safety be guaranteed. The NGO International Crisis Group recently produced a study listing that demand as a key recommendation.

July 3, 2007: The UN said that it will begin a new Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reinsertion program (DDR) in the eastern Congo, specifically Ituri province. The DDR is designed to reintegrate militia fighters into society. A new DDR "transit" site is being opened in Bunia (Ituri province). The UN estimates that 4,500 militiamen will enter the DDR program this summer. Perhaps 30 percent of them will choose to join the Congolese Army. That option was offered to militia fighters in order to entice them to surrender. The problem with that "solution" is that it isn't a solution. Several of the integrated (or "mixed") brigades" in the Congolese Army have proved to be unreliable military units. In fact, they tend to behave as if they were tribal militias. Imagine that. The UN and Congolese government are in the process of creating a new training program for the former militiamen who choose to join the Congolese Army.

July 2, 2007 Two Mai-Mai militia factions fought a battle in North Kivu province (eastern Congo). The Mai-Mai operate as something of a rogue force. In the past they have made quick and convenient alliances with a number of other militia groups. It is fair to say they are basically criminal organizations that also spend some time posing as a guerilla army. The firefight took place between a faction led by Kakule La Fontaine and one led by a man named Munuka Mtubo Jackson. A least two people died in the firefight.

June 27, 2007: Several NGOs curtailed aid and relief operations in North and South Kivu provinces, because attacks on humanitarian workers have increased. North Kivu's situation seems to be particularly precarious. Aid workers have reported that "armed men in uniforms" have hijacked relief vehicles.

 

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