Congo: Living Large In The Heart Of Darkness

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

September 15, 2008: European Union diplomats, African Union and United Nations representatives, and US diplomats have asked that all Congolese and militia forces in the eastern Congo withdraw to positions which they held in August 2008. A new bout of fighting broke out in late August, with North Kivu province taking the brunt of the fighting.

September 11, 2008: UN peacekeeping forces in eastern Congo were moved to block movements by General Laurent Nkunda's CNDP militia. Nkunda is moving to attack an FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) militia unit.

September 10, 2008: One of the biggest problems during the Great Congo War was looting of natural resources. Uganda was accused to looting in Equateur Province and that remains a diplomatic issue dividing Congo and Uganda. For the last two years, the looting continues. The Congolese Army and the FDLR are running mining operations -meaning that the leaders of the units are selling the minerals. At least one gold mine is being run by a militia group.

September 9, 2008: The army has moved troops into northeastern Congo to try to stop the Ugandan rebel Lords Resistance Army from attacking civilians. This is considered a "containment operation," using at least 2000 soldiers. Uganda has been demanding for at least two years that the UN and Congo close LRA bases in the Congo.

September 4, 2008: Congo agreed to withdraw 1000 Congolese Army soldiers and their families from a cantonment in the Virunga National Park. Environmentalists argued that the troops and their families (all told about 6000 people) were degrading the park and threatening mountain gorillas who live in the region. A gorilla victory?

September 3, 2008: Angry Congolese living in the Rutshuru area (eastern Congo) threw stones at and surrounded a UN convoy passing through the area. Two UN troops (both Indians) were hurt in the incident. The Congolese were angry because the UN was pulling Congolese troops out of their village in order to create a "buffer" between a militia group and the Congolese Army. The area around Rutshuru has experienced several firefights since late August.

September 1, 2008: General Laurent Nkunda's militia was once again fighting with the FDLR in North Kivu province.

August 30, 2008: Congo closed its border with Uganda, claiming the move would help cut supplies to General Laurent Nkunda's militia. Congo has accused "outsiders" (in this case, Uganda, but sometimes Rwanda) of supporting Nkunda. Nkunda says his militia protects Congolese Tutsi tribes.

 

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