Congo: Another Round Of Civil War Is On The Way

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

December 8, 2010: The government's failure to decentralize power to the provinces is turning out to be a very bad political decision. The government promised to give the provinces more power (and hence, more tax revenue) beginning May 15, 2010. The day came and went with no action. Now the provincial governments increasingly distrust the capital. Oh, the distrust was already there, but it is worse now. Some critics are once again making the case for a break-up of the Congo. That would mean more war, which is the last thing the country needs. As it is, several politicians intend to use the government's broken promise as a campaign issue in the 2011 elections.

December 7, 2010: Two Congolese Army soldiers were arrested for the murder of a Catholic priest last month in North Kivu province. The two soldiers were former members of the CNDP militia. Civilians in the area had been complaining of threats and intimidation by former militiamen.

December 6, 2010: In the last three weeks, special operations troops serving with peacekeeping forces in the Congo (MONUSCO) had succeeded in cutting the supply lines of Burundian FNL rebels operating in South Kivu province. This entire operation involved 900 UN soldiers. No figure was given for the number of special operations troops that were involved. This followed news that FNL commander Agathon Rwasa had left Burundi and was in the Congo rebuilding the FNL and recruiting new fighters. The Burundi government has issued a warrant for Rwasa's arrest.

December 1, 2010: The government reacted angrily to a UN report that the Congolese Army is involved in criminal enterprises. The evidence is convincing. The allegations have been out there for several years that senior army officers get protection money from illegal mining operations and they also extort illegal taxes from tribes living in their operational areas. For these rogue officers, clamping down on rogue militias takes a backseat to stealing and making money. There is even evidence that the army officers make deals with the militias, particularly when mining valuable minerals is involved. To add to the Congo government's displeasure, the UN Security Council has blacklisted Lieutenant Colonel Innocent Zimurinda for ordering his troops to commit mass murder and mass rape. Zimurinda is now a Congolese Army officer, but a couple of years ago he commanded a militia in the eastern Congo.

November 30, 2010: The government and the Congolese Army denied a UN report that rebel militias had reorganized in South Kivu province and intended to renew the civil war. The UN  alleged that the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP, Laurent Nkunda's old Congolese Tutsi group) and the Burundi Hutu National Liberation Force (FNL) had assembled new recruits in North and South Kivu provinces and were receiving arms shipments. The UN report stated that the FNL has around 700 fighters in South Kivu. The CNDP is now supposed to be part of the Congolese Army, but that is a political fiction. At least three battalions of the CNDP operate on their own.

November 18, 2010: The escape of 169 prisoners from a jail in Gemena ( Equateur province) was apparently made possible because of a mutiny by guards. A judge was conducting hearings in an overcrowded room when the prisoners bolted and got away.

November 11, 2010: The UN believes that Congolese Army soldiers assigned to protect civilian villages in the eastern Congo are now protecting illegal mining operations. Moreover, it appears that until late September or early October of this year Congolese Army general Gabriel Amisi Kumba had provided protection to a mining company named Geminaco that was operating the huge Omate gold mine in North Kivu province. Allegedly Kumba got 25 percent of the production from the mine. Germanico lost control of the mine in October, following a government ban on illegal mining in the eastern Congo.

 

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