Congo: Night Returns To The Heart Of Darkness

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March 10, 2016: The UN has announced that joint operations with the Congo army in North and South Kivu provinces will resume. However, the joint operations disagreement is still a source of political friction. For the government, the suspension was a political affront. For UN peacekeepers it was a difficult decision to make but one that had to be made. There is solid evidence that two key Congolese generals commanding forces and operations in the region either participated in, encouraged or condoned war crimes. However, in January the UN decided that protecting civilians in eastern Congo took precedence over putting pressure on the government to reform the military. There is also a possibility that the two generals are not involved in joint operations. If true, then the UN made its point to the government. UN forces in eastern Congo are currently supporting the army operations against the Ugandan ADF rebels and the Rwandan FDLR.

March 8, 2016: The U.S. announced more sanctions against the LRA (Lords Resistance Army) and its leader Joseph Kony. Since early January 2016, the Ugandan LRA rebels have kidnapped 217 people in the CAR (Central African Republic). That is almost twice as many kidnappings and abductions attributed to the LRA in the whole of 2015. It is assumed that many of the abductees have been forced to serve as rebel fighters. The women become supply bearers and sex slaves.

March 7, 2016: Diplomats are trying to help Uganda resolve its post-election impasse. President Museveni claimed he won the February 18 election with over 60 percent of the vote. The opposition (FDC) contends the election was unfair and rigged. The FDC has made four demands. It wants an independent (preferably international) audit and examination of the presidential election ballot count. It wants its leaders to be able to travel around the country without the restrictions currently imposed by Museveni. Currently, FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye is being denied freedom of movement. He is essentially under house arrest. The FDC also wants the government to remove all security forces from its party headquarters in Kampala. Finally, it wants the government to release all members of the FDC who have been detained by security forces. The last demand is for release of approximately 300 FDC supporters who were arrested nation-wide.

In CAR fighting over the weekend left at least a dozen people dead. This was mostly about Christian and Moslem groups feuding with each other over past disputes.

March 6, 2016: Over 250,000 Burundians have fled their country since trouble began in April 2015. That was the month Perre Nkurunziza decided to run for a prohibited third term as president. He subsequently passed amendments and legislation to permit him to seek a third term and won it in Burundi’s July 2015 election. However, since then the country has teetered on the brink of civil war.

March 5, 2016: According to the UN since 2002 approximately 30,600 foreign fighters who were operating in Congo have been repatriated to their countries of origin. Most (25,623, of the 30,600) were members of the radical Rwandan Hutu rebel FDLR. The UN estimates FDLR has about 2,000 fighters still in Congo. Former members of the FDLR tell media the figure is more like 4,500.

March 4, 2016: The Congo government conviction of six political activists on charges of attempting to incite revolt has been upheld by an appeals court. However, the activists, who were originally sentenced to two years in jail, will now only serve six months in prison. All of the activists belong to the Struggle for Change (Lucha) coalition.

March 1, 2016: Burundian opposition groups are renewing efforts to pressure the African Union (AU) into deploying a peacekeeping force to Burundi. In December 3015 the AU Peace and Security Council decided to create the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU). However, president Nkurunziza’s government announced that it would militarily resist the peacekeepers and the AU decided it would not deploy force. Meanwhile, a UN team is in Burundi investigating allegations of arbitrary murders and extra-judicial executions.

February 29, 2016: Rebels believed to belong to the Ugandan ADF murdered at least 12 people in the village of Mamabio (Congo, North Kivu province). The attackers also plundered a health clinic.

February 26, 2016: Rwandan security forces have arrested Seraphin Mirindi on the Rwanda-Congo border. Mirindi is a former senior commander of the Congolese rebel M23 group.

February 23, 2016: Burundian president Nkurunziza announced that his government will hold new talks with the opposition. His statement came after a meeting with UN officials. The talks will be part of an effort to peacefully resolve Burundi’s continuing crisis. Nkurunziza reportedly told the UN that he will end press restrictions. He will also begin freeing some 2,000 political prisoners. Opposition leaders have made freeing political prisoners a key demand.

February 22, 2016: The European Union announced that it will not send election observers to monitor election in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). The election is scheduled to be held March 20. The EU stated that the government’s election commission is not prepared to conduct a transparent (ie, legitimate) vote. The EU decision is a political slap at President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

 

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