Congo: Congo and Central Africa Continue to Struggle

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November 19, 2023: Congo’s ruling party, UPDS, has Congo President Felix Tshisekedi as its candidate in the 2023 election to be held December 20. The announcement was a formality. Tshisekedi will also head the UDPS through 2028. The UPDS intends to solidify its hold on power. UPDS will run 495 national legislative candidates for the 500 parliament seats. Martin Fayulu is Tshisekedi’s chief rival and has strenuously objected to the current electoral commission’s members and decision-making process. He says it is biased in favor of Tshisekedi. A substantial number of Fayulu’s supporters continue to dispute CENI’s (Independent National Electoral Commission) decision to name Tshisekedi the winner of the December 30, 2018, presidential election. Well into 2019 Fayulu maintained he won the election outright, and several independent election observer groups agree. Congo’s Catholic Church had evidence Fayulu was the landslide winner with about 60 percent of the vote. Moise Katumbi is also expected to run against Tshisekedi in this year’s election.

November 13, 2023: Opposition political leaders continue to criticize Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). The opposition is concerned that the vote process and the vote tabulating will be unfair and favor President Felix Tshisekedi’s government. One opposition leader is demanding an independent audit of voter registration rolls. There is also evidence that CENI hasn’t properly prepared for the December 20 national election, especially in eastern Congo. CENI recently reported that slightly over 43.9 million Congolese citizens are registered to vote. There are 26 candidates for president.

November 12, 2023: In the east (North Kivu province) Suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Islamist terrorists raided a small village near the Uganda-Congo border. The terrorists used machetes to murder 19 villagers. Local authorities said other villagers were missing and may have drowned in the Lamia River as they tried to flee to Uganda. The ADF is also known as the Islamic State-Central Africa Province.

November 11, 2023: In the east (North Kivu province) six people were killed and ten wounded when Congolese soldiers and a local militia exchanged fire. The militia was described as a loyal militia, meaning a militia supporting the government and nominally an army ally.

November 10, 2023: Uganda and Tanzania have signed a natural gas pipeline agreement. The new pipeline will run from gas fields in southern Tanzania to southern Uganda. Uganda intends to use the gas to power factories and electrical generation facilities.

November 9, 2023: The Archbishop of Kisangani and President of the Congo’s Catholic Bishops' Conference criticized the government’s failure to provide security. The Catholic Bishops' Conference is regarded as the most credible organization in Congo. The archbishop said there is no doubt Rwanda supports the M23 rebel movement in eastern Congo. The Islamist radical ADF is a terrible threat. But there are also many forgotten wars that cause death and destruction. Among them are the wars over valuable strategic minerals like coltan and cobalt. The Congolese people do not benefit from the exploitation of these resources by foreign multinational corporations with the complicity of local rulers. Because of that too many Congolese live in a very rich country in which a large part of the population lives in poverty.

November 7, 2023: In the south (Lualaba Province) a strike by truckers temporarily blocked exports of cobalt and copper. Congo is blocking exports of copper and cobalt from a Chinese mining operation.

In the east (North Kivu province) UN peacekeepers and the Congolese Army announced they have launched a joint operation that will improve security around the city of Goma. Approximately two million people live in Goma. M23 rebels are operating north of the city and recently fought with a local militia18 kilometers north of Goma. Fighting in Virunga National Park (north of Goma) has cut electrical lines delivering power to Goma.

November 6, 2023: America's diplomats held separate phone conversations with Congo President Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The State Dept asked both nations to diplomatically resolve the tensions between Congo and Rwanda and pull back troops from their mutual border.

November 2, 2023: In the Central African Republic (CAR) Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebels killed at least five civilians when they attacked the town of Moyenne Sido (northern CAR near the border with Chad). An estimated 300 CPC fighters participated in the attack. The CPC opposes CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

November 1, 2023: Uganda criticized the U.S. government for threatening to deny it and several other African countries access to a tariff-free trade program, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The U.S. administration recently accused Uganda and the CAR of consistent bad treatment of civilians. The U.S. launched the AGOA program in 2000.

The Ugandan Army claimed it killed six ADF terrorists who were involved in the October 17 murders of two tourists and their guide in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The army tracked the terrorists for two weeks. In addition to killing six terrorists, Ugandan soldiers captured their commander, a man known as Njovu. A senior Ugandan officer said the operation is continuing because ADF splinter groups remain in the area.

October 30, 2023: The International Organization for Migration claimed that violent conflict has displaced over 6.9 million people in Congo. The overwhelming majority of the displaced come from eastern Congo. Ethnic rivalries and rebellions are two of the major factors driving the conflicts. The IOM also said “political uncertainty and lack of inclusive governance” are another conflict driver. Finally, regional tensions that are exacerbated by government support for armed groups. For example, Rwanda provides support for M23 rebels.

October 29, 2023: In Congo, Finance Ministry auditors reported the government spent $324 million on the International Francophone Games that were held July 2023. The figure is five times as much as was budgeted. The money went to build sports stadiums, tracks and suitable accommodation for athletes. The ministry admitted there were substantial cost overruns and planning issues. Critics believe that corruption contributed to the overruns.

October 28, 2023: In the east (North Kivu Province) ADF terrorists killed two Ugandan soldiers and two Congolese civilians. One ADF attacker was killed in the incident. The Ugandan soldiers were at a roadblock. The attackers also destroyed three vehicles.

October 25, 2023: Rwanda accused Congo of tolerating an October 23 incident where rebels operating in Congo attacked and injured a civilian near the Congo-Rwanda border. A stray bullet from a clash between Congolese militias hit the Rwandan civilian. Rwanda accuses Congo of backing the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda Hutu extremist group.

October 24, 2023: In the east (North Kivu Province) ADF Islamic terrorists killed 26 people during a night attack on a rural town. The attackers used machetes to carry out the massacre. According to the Congolese Army, the attackers thought gunfire would alert nearby soldiers.

In the east (North Kivu Province) suspected M23 rebels killed a Kenyan soldier serving with the peacekeeping force in eastern Congo. The incident occurred in the Kibumba area (north of Goma). This is the first reported death of a Kenyan soldier serving with the EACRF peacekeeping force.

October 17, 2023: The head of Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is traveling in the U.S. with the goal of demonstrating the CENI is a reformed institution and is capable of running a clean and fair election. CENI’s president acknowledged the 2011 and 2018 elections were marred by errors. December’s national elections will cost Congo around $1.1 billion.

In Burundi the government arrested Kefa Nibizi, the head of the Council for Democracy and Sustainable Development in Burundi (Codebu) party after he criticized the government on social media. Codebu is a very small opposition party. Nibizi is charged with undermining the internal security of the state. His post on X commemorated the 62nd anniversary of the assassination of Burundi independence hero Prince Louis Rwagasore. He also said Burundi is suffering from unprecedented misery.

October 16, 2023: In the east (North Kivu Province) two or more Ugandan soldiers were severely wounded in a rebel ambush. The wounded were taken to a nearby Ugandan field hospital. M23 is the most active rebel group in the area.

October 14, 2023: In the east (North Kivu Province) the Ugandan air force attacked ADF targets and killed several ADF terrorists.

The United Nations announced that nine members of the South African peacekeeping contingent have been detained and confined to barracks. They are charged with fraternizing with prostitutes in off-limits bars while they were deployed at a peacekeeper base in eastern Congo. A full investigation is underway. The statement noted that the UN Secretary-General has a zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, and other serious misconduct.

 

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