Congo: Elections and Violent Peacekeepers Quiet Things Down


: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

December 4, 2006: The 632 members of the new parliament have been announced, which apparently will cause many armed groups to quiet down, until they see what the new legislators will do for, or against, them. The various rebel groups are also cowed by the recent vigorous (violent) actions by UN peacekeepers. The UN troops have switched from passively observing, to meeting violence with violence. Since the UN soldiers are better trained and equipped than the rebels, they are nearly always successful. The word gets around, and the rebels are trying to come up with new tactics to deal with this.

December 1, 2006: Germany withdrew 100 troops from the Congo, out of a force of had 760 peacekeepers serving as part of the reinforced EUFOR peacekeeping contingent sent to protect the Congolese elections. The German government said it plans to pull all of its troops out by this Christmas.

November 29, 2006: The Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front (FRPI) militia agreed to disarm. During disarmament negotiations the FRPI and two other militia groups admitted they had approximately 700 "child soldiers" serving in their forces.

November 28, 2006: A firefight broke out in the eastern Congo town of Sake (near the Rwandan border, in North Kivu province). Congolese Army units (FARDC) exchanged gunfire with a "dissident" army faction led by rebel general Laurent Nkunda. At least two soldiers were killed and 15 people wounded in the fighting on November 28. Nkunda's militia (elements of what was the Army 83rd Brigade) attacked the town on November 26. A UN force manned by Indian soldiers and the 11th and 14th Brigades of the Congolese Army counter-attacked and drove the militia from the town. The UN unit was supported by armored personnel carriers and an attack helicopter. In the November 26 fighting, 75 Congolese soldiers were reported wounded. The Indian troops have been operating in and around the Congolese town of Goma. The border area remains extremely sensitive. The UN is concerned that militias operating in North Kivu and South Kivu are still receiving logistics support (including new weapons) from outside the Congo.


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