Congo: Minding The Militia Madness

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

July 3, 2010:  The UN is once again criticizing the government for failing to bring armed groups under control. These armed groups (which usually means militias, but can mean gangs) are recruiting new members, including under-age children (child soldiers) to fill out their ranks. Their victims are usually civilians. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) militias have groups operating in both North and South Kivu. The FDLR's FOCA faction operates in South Kivu; its RUD-Urunana faction is based in North Kivu. The Ugandan rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA) is still active in Orientale province. The LRA has killed at least 300 people this year (January to June 2010) in the Congo.

June 30, 2010: The Congo celebrated its 50th year of independence from Belgium. The army held a parade in Kinshasha that included 15,000 soldiers.

June 20, 2010: Reports from North Kivu province indicate that the Congo's attempts to integrate the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) into the Congolese Army (FARDC) are failing. That said, accusations that Congolese Tutsis (the base group supporting the CNDP) have created a Tutsi statelet in North Kivu are not accurate. The CNDP is not strong enough to pull that off and Congo is increasingly cooperating with the Rwandan government. More likely are the allegations that CNDP militiamen, who have been integrated into the Congolese Army, still recognize the authority of their militia commanders. In other words, their loyalty is to their CNDP chain of command, not the government's. This type of hidden loyalty has been a major concern for UN peacekeepers involved in the integration program, and not just with the CNDP.

June 12, 2010: Some 500 Mai-Mai fighters who were supposed to be integrated into the Congolese Army say they will no longer recognize the agreement with the government. The Kifufua Mai-Mai contend that the government has been too slow in fulfilling its promises, which include giving Mai Mai commanders leadership positions.

June 5, 2010: A militia group formerly operating in Uganda has shown up in the Congo. The Front for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) now has a cadre in North Kivu province. According to sources in the eastern Congo, the FPLC has a few hundred militia fighters under its control.

June 4, 2010: Amilitia group in South Kivu province ambushed an army patrol near the southeastern town of Matili, killing four soldiers. The town was reportedly under siege by a militia, and the army was advancing to the rescue.

June 3, 2010: The government reported a force of 150 FDLR fighters attacked a military post in Burungu (North Kivu province). The FDLR killed five soldiers and eight civilians in the attack. The Congolese Army claimed it killed six rebels in the firefight.

 

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