Political opposition leader and presidential candidate Martin Fayulu still contends he is the rightful winner of the presidential election and that former president Joseph Kabila managed to hijack the election by getting CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission) to declare Felix Tshisekedi the victor. Several independent vote counting organizations, including Congo’s Catholic Church, have evidence Fayulu won outright with 59 percent of the vote. The data are so granular these had to be from sources within CENI. Tshisekedi, Fayulu says, is complicit in Kabila’s fraud on the people of Congo. However, Fayulu’s complaints have remained verbal. So far there is no organized nation-wide opposition to Tshisekedi, much less armed opposition. However, some opposition groups in eastern Congo have called Tshisekedi illegitimate. Fayulu has made that charge himself; that Tshisekedi lacks genuine legitimacy even though Congo’s highest court declared Tshisekedi the winner. Fayulu says everyone knows the court is packed with Kabila allies. A ruling by the court may technically confer legality but it does not confer legitimacy. One of the UN’s goals for Congo is “creating accountable institutions.” CENI has proved to be unaccountable and Tshisekedi has no interest in publishing the real election results. Kabila’s party controls the parliament and vote fraud occurred in the parliamentary elections. Kabila and his cohorts are positioned to continue to control government trade and mining agencies. The national mining company, Gecamines, is run by a Kabila political ally. Call that cobalt stability. Major buyers of Congolese minerals, like China, can continue to do business with familiar faces. As for Tshisekedi, he has assumed the office and role of president. He has traveled Congo, visited a couple of neighboring states and touted his win as the first peaceful handover of executive power in Congo’s history. Tshisekedi is vowing to curb corruption Congo and he claims the new mining code is a vehicle for that. That remains to be seen. (Austin Bay)
March 5, 2018: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), there was new violence as a Mai-Mai militia attacked an army position and killed two soldiers. One militiaman died in the attack. This took place near Butembo, which is a hotspot in the now seven-month-old Ebola epidemic. Another attack occurred near Goma, where the assailants shot one victim and, using machetes, hacked to death three more people.
Rwanda accused Uganda of supporting the Rwandan RNC and FDLR rebels. Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his government have long been the target of these two rebel organizations. The FDLR is regarded as a terrorist organization. Rwanda-Uganda political relations continue to get worse. In late February Rwanda once again closed the border crossing at Katuna to Ugandan trucks. The trucks have to take a 100 kilometer detour to another crossing point. Yes, it’s an economic penalty.
Burundi has followed up on its December 2018 demand that the UN withdraw its human rights officials and shut down their office in the capital. The government is now forcing the UN to close its human rights office in the largest city (Bujumbura). The human rights office began operations in 1995. Burundi suspended cooperation with that office in 2016. UN officials have been very critical of President Pierre Nkurunziza and his repression of political opponents. UN investigators believe that since 2015 over 1,200 people have died in violence stirred by Nkurunziza’s decision to amend the constitution and run for a third term as president. The International Criminal Court has also authorized investigations into state-sponsored crimes – extra-judicial killings, torture and rape of members of the political opposition.
March 1, 2019: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), a foreign medical aid NGO described how violent attacks on its personnel have forced it to suspend operations in many parts of North Kivu. A major attack occurred February 24 when a large group of men (from 20 to 100) appeared outside the group’s clinic outside Butembo. The men hurled rocks then burned clinic supplies and water and sanitation equipment. Another attack occurred on February 27. Attackers rammed the facilities gate with a car then started shooting at the clinic. There were several patients infected with Ebola in the facility. Police showed up and a gunfight ensued. One police officer was slain. Some infected patients ran away in order to escape the gun battle. WHO (World Health Organization) reported all of the infected patients have been accounted for. The medical NGO officials said local police and the Congolese Army have demonstrated are not capable of defending the clinics and the organization’s personnel.
February 27, 2019: In CAR (Central African Republic) WHO is in the process of airlifting 36 metric tons of food to a town 1,000 kilometers east of the capital, Bangui. Some 18,000 refugees and residents there are starving because general violence plus deliberate rebel attacks have closed the highways leading to town.
February 25, 2019: In southwest Congo (Maindombe province), UN investigators continue to find the bodies (535 so far) of victims of the December16-17 massacre. An estimated 3,000 men were involved in the mass murder. Congolese authorities said only six have been arrested.
February 22, 2019: The United States imposed travel restrictions on five Congolese officials, including the head of CENI, the president of the National Assembly and the head of the constitutional court. The U.S. accuses all five of “enriching themselves” through corruption during and after Congo’s presidential election. In other words, they were paid to throw the election and deny Martin Fayulu his victory. This is a turnabout. America had initially commended the constitutional court for ruling that Felix Tshisekedi had won the election. The restrictions also affect the sanctioned individuals’ family members
The AU (African Union) has asked Burundi to withdraw 1,000 soldiers from its contingent of 5,400 serving with the AU/UN peacekeeping force in Somalia. Burundi has agreed to withdraw 341 soldiers but asked that other nations providing troops withdraw the other 659.
February 21, 2019: In Congo, the government has been accused of committing extra-judicial executions – murders. The specific charge is 27 people killed in the capital (Kinshasa) by police during 2018. The new president, Felix Tshisekedi, said his government will end such abuses by the security forces.
February 20, 2019: Demand for Congolese cobalt is increasing. Congo now accounts for 60 to 65 percent of the world’s annual cobalt production. Geologists estimate Congo has 50 percent of the world’s known cobalt reserves. It takes around 22 pounds of cobalt to produce the lithium-ion batteries that power China’s small electric cars.
February 17, 2019: WHO has updated (as of February 15) its statistics on the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo where there are 840 total reported cases and WHO has confirmed 775. There were 473 confirmed deaths among the confirmed cases. This is why other sources reporting 600 or more deaths cannot be dismissed as sensationalism. The deaths occurred in areas medical experts could not access.) WHO has 5,745 Ebola virus contacts under surveillance.
February 15, 2019: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), Virunga National Park has reopened. The park closed in May 2018 after the kidnapping of two tourists and their Congolese driver and the murder of a Congolese park ranger who tried to defend the tourists and driver. The park is huge, covering over 7,800 square kilometers.
February 12, 2019: The UN has asked Belgium to apologize for its imperial exploitation and colonization of Congo. A UN panel pointed out that Belgium’s Africa Museum still has more than 180,000 items looted from Congo. During the colonial period, Congo was actually the personal property of the Belgian king.
February 11, 2019: In northeastern Congo (Ituri Province), over civilians have fled to nearby Uganda. The refugees are fleeing ethnic fighting between the Lendu and Bagegere tribes.
February 8, 2019: Congo’s new president Felix Tshisekedi made a state visit to the neighboring (across the Congo river) Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). The Republic of Congo currently hosts over 60,000 Congolese refugees. Tshisekedi assured Congolese who had gone into exile for ideological or political reasons that he wanted them to return. He said he would create “new political conditions” that would end their “reasons for exile.” Many Congolese exiles in the Republic of Congo are former Congolese soldiers from the Mobutu-era (President Mobutu Sese Seko) who fled in 1996. Another large group consists of supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi, Felix’s deceased father.
February 5, 2019: The CAR government reached an agreement with 14 armed groups (militias) to end fighting with the government and among themselves. The deal was signed in Sudan. Warning: this is the seventh “end internal warfare” agreement signed in the CAR in the last decade. Some 13,000 UN peacekeepers have been in the CAR since 2014.