Congo: Warlords Forever



Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

April 3, 2012: General Bosco Ntaganda commands 50,000 Congolese troops in the east. The problem is that Ntaganda is a wanted (by the International Criminal Court) war criminal. Ntaganda still acts that way, but as long as he remains in the good graces of the Congolese government he can't be touched by war crimes prosecutors. That pretty much sums up the situation in Congo, where rebel leaders can make a deal with the government and remain in control of many armed and unruly men.

April 1, 2012: The UN is concerned that North Kivu province could regress. After the January 2009 arrest (by Rwandan forces) of Laurent Nkunda, leader of the CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People, a primarily Tutsi group), North Kivu began to stabilize. After Nkunda’s arrest, the CNDP fractured into several groups. (One faction has become the CNDP political party.) However, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR, a radical Hutu organization) has not been eradicated, despite the efforts of the Congolese Army (FARDC), UN peacekeepers, and Rwandan forces. Former CNDP militiamen, who were integrated into the Congolese Army, are increasingly operating as freelancers; the worry is that CNDP-dominated FARDC units are on their way to becoming rebels in uniform. The contested reelection of President Joseph Kabila is one reason. Many tribes do not trust Kabila and his backers and they have good reasons. Interestingly enough some former CNDP soldiers reportedly backed Kabila. Backing him in the election, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into real support for his government. The theory is that the former CNDP fighters are, like the FDLR, more interested in controlling mineral resources in the eastern Congo. The CNDP militiamen and their commanders will verbally support Kabila but run North Kivu (at least the mines and border area) as a satrapy. Meanwhile, the UN Organization and Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) is supposedly preparing to reduce forces in the country, despite appeals earlier this year for new sources of support for the mission. The stage is being set for a round-robin struggle between and among other eastern factions (to include Mai-Mai militias), the FDLR, CNDP-dominated army units, and other FARDC units

March 20, 2012: There were numerous atrocities committed by soldiers and police in the capital during and after the November 2011 election. At least 33 people were killed and 83 wounded in election and post-election violence. Presidential guard units were involved. There were also allegations of torture. President Joseph Kabila claimed he won 48.95 percent of the national vote. Opponents claimed massive election fraud. International election observers (primarily from the European Union) concluded the election was flawed and it was not possible to determine with any accuracy who had really won. One opposition group asserted that over 1.3 million ballots were unaccounted for.

March 14, 2012: The International Criminal Court (ICC) found Congolese militia commander and warlord, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, guilty of war crimes, to include recruiting and using child soldiers (under the age of 15) and rape. Lubanga committed the crimes in the Ituri region (eastern Congo, near the Uganda border).

February 29, 2012: Uganda intends to open another refugee camp to house Congolese refugees. Most of the refugees have fled attacks by the FDLR. Some 3,000 Congolese have fled into Uganda since November 2011. Several hundred more are reportedly collecting in the border region. This will be the third refugee camp erected to take care of Congolese refugees.

February 27, 2012: The UN has asked Angola to provide helicopters for UN operations in the Congo. UN forces do not have enough helicopters to conduct supply, liaison, and observation missions.

February 17, 2012:  The UN cited China’s MONUSCO peacekeeping contingent (2010-2011) for its service. The Chinese engineer contingent (approximately 220 troops) renovated over 100 kilometers of roads and built 14 bridges. The unit also had a medical detachment.

February 16, 2012: The UN reported that MONUSCO peacekeeping force currently has a strength of 18,997 uniformed personnel. The uniformed force consists of 17,010 soldiers, 1,241 police, and 746 uniformed military observers. Approximately 4,000 UN civilian staffers support MONUSCO.

February 15, 2012: The Congolese Army took control of two mines in North Kivu province (eastern Congo), the tin mine at Bisie and the gold mine at Omate. The army announced that it will protect the mines from armed rebel groups. The Mai-Mai Sheka (also called the Cheka) and the FDLR had been in control of the mines. Around 70 percent of North Kivu province’s tin is produced at Bisie. The UN is currently training some 500 Congolese mining police to help protect the eastern Congo’s mineral resources.

February 8, 2012: The UN’s peacekeeping office has issued a request for reinforcement of MONUSCO stability operations.




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