Congo: My Way Or Else

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March 6, 2017: President Kabila is apparently still seeking to stop an election 2017. The political opposition is convinced that Kabila does not intend to fulfill the December 31 agreement (the December Accord) to eventually cede power. Foreign diplomats and local UN officials (who run the peacekeeping operation) appear to be reaching the same conclusion. Since late January Kabila’s supporters have come up with more excuses for delaying national elections until 2018 (or later). Excuses include the cost of running the elections. Another is the reappearance of March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in eastern Congo. The Catholic Church brokered the December Accord between the political opposition and senior members of Kabila’s government. However, political opposition leaders and UN officials both noted that Kabila himself was not personally a party to the agreement. The December Accord let Kabila remain in power until national elections are held near the end of 2017. But it appears Kabila intends to avoid holding those elections. Elections were originally scheduled for November 2016. The delays and attacks by Kabilia associates on the opposition parties have led to less unity and coordination in the opposition, which represents most of the population.

March 1, 2017: The Catholic Church in Congo is making certain diplomats and foreign journalists are aware of the increase in attacks on church property and employees. Particularly alarming was a February 18 arson attack on a seminary. On February 19 a “youth gang” attacked a church in Kinshasa. The Catholic Church mediated the agreement between the political opposition and the Kabila government that supposedly will lead to new elections and Joseph Kabila’s removal from the presidency. The attacks look like attempts by Kabila supporters to intimidate the church. In fact a senior church leader said the church is “being targeted deliberately, in order to sabotage her mission of peace and reconciliation.”

February 27, 2017: Brigadier General Comes Semugeshi, former senior officer in the FDLR Rwandan rebels surrendered on February 27 and the UN will send him back to Rwanda. Semugeshi said he surrendered “because of unending lies and empty promises.” Semugeshi is currently a member of an FDLR break-away faction, the CNRD-Ubwiyunge that was founded in May 2016.

The government of Burundi rejected a highly critical UN report, calling it unproven allegations. The UN pointed out that current president Nkurunziza seems intent on seeking an illegals fourth term as president. Burundi’s internal crisis began in April 2015 when Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term.

February 24, 2017: In Congo (North Kivu province) soldiers clashed with M23 rebels and killed 16 of them and captured 68. The rebels were attempting to enter Virunga National an area rebel groups have used as a base area.

February 22, 2017: An online video recently appeared claiming to show Congolese soldiers executing 13 members of the Kamuina Nsapu militia. The “summary executions” allegedly occurred in the southwest (Kasai-Central province) during mid- February 2017. UN investigators said that they are looking into the clashes between the army and the militia that occurred between February 9 and February 13 and have confirmed that at least 100 people were killed. The government called the video a fake but many Western nations (who pay for the peacekeeping and other aid) want a full investigation and the U.S. did this two days ago.

February 21, 2017: In the southwest (Kasai-Central province) several parishes were attacked and looted.

February 16, 2017: The Congolese government claims that a national election would cost more ($1.8 billion to hold an election in 2017) than the country can afford.

February 14, 2017: In the southwest (Kasai-Central province) soldiers have engaged the Kamuina Nsapu militia in a series of firefights that left over a hundred dead, 39 of them women, during five days of clashes. Locals say the soldiers “fired indiscriminately” during firefights inside a town.

In the west (Kinshasa) police killed four people while looking for BDM rebels. Two were killed in a raid on the home of a BDM leader and arrested 22 other suspects. The BDM seeks the independence of the Bas-Congo region (western Congo). Its adherents have to renounce western and eastern religions. It also wants to revive the pre-colonial Kongo Kingdom. That would take some doing. A revived Kongo Kingdom would include parts of Gabon, Angola, Congo, and the much smaller Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).

February 12, 2017: Former members of the M23 rebels are asking the Congo government to let them leave their demobilization bases in Uganda and return to Congo. The Ugandans support the request.

February 10, 2017: Rwanda’s National Assembly has passed a law making Swahili the nation’s fourth official language. Kinyarwanda is the original national language. English and French are also used in official communications. Swahili is spoken throughout East Africa. Rwanda is attempting to modernize and liberalize its economy. The government wants to make the country an economic “hub” in Central and East Africa. Making Swahili an official language (for doing business) forwards that goal. (Austin Bay)

February 8, 2017: Thanks to aid from donor nations the UN peacekeeping force has enabled the weak CAR (Central African Republic) government to improve the security situation near the capital, Bangui. Still, some 2.3 million people in the country require humanitarian aid (food and medicine) supplied by donor nations to survive. Continuing chaos disrupts local agriculture. It also makes delivering aid even more difficult. The CAR’s chaos has evolved and now the UN peacekeepers are facing a more complex situation, particularly in the north-east and north. What was the Seleka rebel group from up there has split into several independent militias with different goals. The same thing is happening with some of the anti-Balaka militias which initially formed in 2013 to protect predominantly Christian tribes from attacks by Seleka (who are predominantly Moslem). What are the former Seleka fighting over? Two groups in the north-east appear to be fighting over smuggling routes. Some groups are fighting over local resources (a mine, in one case). Some factions may simply reflect tribal divisions. Bangui isn’t totally stable -- just better than it was in mid-2016. Observers report that some former Seleka fighters remain in the capital, in predominantly Moslem neighborhoods. (Austin Bay)

February 7, 2017: A group of Congolese religious leaders has asked that all political parties in the Congo “re-commit” themselves to fulfill the December 31 agreement mediated by the Catholic Church.

February 5, 2017: The government is being urged to investigate the incident in the town of Kimpese (Bas-Congo province, western Congo, between Kinshasa and the Angola border). Policemen shot and killed eight members of the Bundu Dia Mayala (BDM). Locals claim 12 people were killed. The BDK members were trying to recover the body of the leader of the province’s chapter of the New Civil Society. The body was being held in a morgue. Police claimed the BDK members were demonstrators who clashed with officers.

 

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