Congo: The Third Term Is The Curse

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February 21, 2016: South Africa is evaluating the operations of the UN’s Intervention Brigade (IBDE) in terms of accomplishing the UN goal of peace enforcement. Over 1,000 South African soldiers serve in the special unit that is tasked with conducting offensive operations against rogue militias. South Africa also supplies the attack helicopter detachment and artillery support. Observers believe that because of the IBDE the operation against the M23 guerrilla group was largely successful. M23 tried to hold enclaves and the IBDE and Congolese Army forces attacked them. Despite the IBDE the However, the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), a radical Hutu militia, continues to exist and the Ugandan ADF rebels manage to keep fighters in the field. Peacekeepers and Congolese security forces have battered the FDLR and ADF, but these two militias have demonstrated the ability to filter away, hide for a while and then attack again. Is there something the IBDE can do to deliver the coup de grace? Diplomats and UN peacekeeping officials are wondering if these groups be destroyed before the November 2016 Congo elections. In November 2015 the UN Security Council made neutralizing (destroying) the FDLR and ADF priority goals. The Security Council also said FRPI (Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri) must be eliminated. The Ugandan Lords Resistance Army still has bands operating in Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR). If South Africa withdrew its forces IBDE would be crippled but even with South African troops IBDE still has a lot of work to do. (Austin Bay)

February 20, 2016: Uganda’s political opposition is disputing the national election held on February 18. Current president Yoweri Museveni claimed victory with around 65 percent of the vote. The opposition is crying foul and fraud. Chief opposition leader and presidential candidate Kizza Besigye has been in and out of jail. International observers report that votes were bought -- and they point to Museveni supporters as the buyers. The U.S. government agreed that there were numerous irregularities in the vote. That can mean mismanagement, and many polling places did not receive timely delivery of ballots. But it is really diplo-speak for fraud and cheating. The United States scolded the Ugandan government for excessive use of force by police, blocking internet sites, blocking social media and undermining the election.

February 19, 2016: As Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed victory in the presidential election, Ugandan security forces in the capital, Kampala, surrounded the political headquarters of the main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change. They then arrested Kizza Besigye, the main opposition presidential candidate in the recent national election. Elsewhere in Kampala, police confronted protestors. In the central business and government district, police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesting crowds. In one instance police with automatic rifles fired warning shots to disperse demonstrators.

February 17, 2016: The UN has documented 411 incidents of human rights violations in the Congo that occurred in January 2016. This is up from 347 in December 2015. North Kivu province (eastern Congo) has the most human rights violations. The Congolese government is a major human rights violator. The UN report said that the Congolese Army, police and government authorities were responsible for two-thirds of the incidents.

February 16, 2016: Congo opposition parties continue to seek international help in forcing the government to conduct the national election in November 2016. The opposition characterized the election schedule released in January by the government (CENI, National Independent Electoral Commission) as being designed to fail. CENI claimed it will take more than 13 months to revise and confirm voter registrations lists. One opposition leader said that failure to conduct a fair and honest election on time will produce a national political crisis. The opposition also says the bureaucratic mismanagement of the election (pointing a finger at CENI) is just one part of president Kabila’s glissement (sliding or slipping) strategy to delay elections. They contend that Kabila intends to seek a third term, which is unconstitutional. The constitution which limits a president to two terms.

February 13, 2016: A rebel militia in North Kivu province attacked a village near the town of Eringeti, killing six people and kidnaping 14. The attackers apparently belonged to the ADF and the rebel operation was planned and coordinated. For example a small rebel contingent attacked a nearby army camp while the larger force attacked the village.

February 8, 2016: In Burundi opposition group FRODEBU (Front for Democracy in Burundi) accused the African Union (AU) of abandoning the people of Burundi by failing to deploy a peacekeeping force. In response, senior AU officials said that was not the case and that the AU remains deeply involved in trying to resolve the turmoil in the country. That said, there will be no AU peacekeeping force in Burundi, at least for the immediate future. The AU wants to give dialogue and diplomacy another chance. The political trouble began when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s April 2015 decision to seek a third term. He then changed the constitution and won an election.

February 6, 2016: Five people were killed in violent incidents in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. One of the attacks involved a grenade.

“Citizen Front 2016”, a Congo opposition political alliance said it will hold more public protests to demand President Joseph Kabila respect the constitution and not seek a third presidential term.

February 5, 2016: The UN apparently has a confidential report that concluded Rwanda has trained Burundian refugees for the purpose of deposing Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. The report included information provided by Burundian rebel fighters who said they were trained at a camp in Rawanda. One of the leaked details includes where and when some of the rebels were recruited. Eighteen rebels said they were in the Mahama Refugee Center (eastern Rwandan). In May and June 2015 they were recruited to fight Nkuruniziza. They then received two months of military training by the Rwandan Army. Most of this involved the use of light infantry weapons. Rebels claimed that the Rwandans have trained four companies of rebels, each with about 100 fighters. In December 2015 the Burundi government accused Rwanda of supporting a rebel guerrilla group but Rwanda denied the allegation.

February 4, 2016: During January 2016 the Ugandan Lords Resistance Army (LRA) conducted 16 attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR). LRA fighters killed one civilian and kidnapped around 70 people. Most of the attacks occurred in the CAR’s jungle-covered south-eastern region.

February 2, 2016: The Burundi government claimed that the country is “99 percent safe” and said that the country does not need an African Union peacekeeping force.

February 1, 2016: The Congo government confirmed that the Congolese Army offensive in South Kivu’s Masisi targeted the Mai Mai Nyatura. That operation began January 11.

Angola reported that in January the families of 40 former FLEC (Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front) rebel fighters are receiving national identification papers as part of Angola’s social reintegration process. Altogether 236 people will receive their papers. The 40 former rebels had been in exile in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). The Angolan government relocated them in Cabinda’s Cacongo municipality.

January 31, 2016: Rwanda announced that it had arrested several people it suspects are operatives working on behalf of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). The arrests came after police attempted to arrest a Muslim cleric, Muhammad Mugemangango, who was allegedly trying to recruit Rwandans to fight with ISIL. Police shot Mugemangango when he tried to escape.

 

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