This month marked the first anniversary of Felix Tshisekedi’s inauguration (January 24) as president. Opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu still disputes CENI’s (Independent National Electoral Commission) decision to name Tshisekedi the winner and the facts support Fayulu. However, Tshisekedi’s real opposition continues to be former president Joseph Kabila, whose corrupt cronies and powerful political party dominate parliament. Tshisekedi genuinely thinks he has made some progress on curbing government corruption and he probably has. Tshisekedi promised reform and after his inauguration launched a broad government corruption investigation which is on-going. However, his own political supporters point out that no senior government official, current or former, has been arrested on corruption charges. They argue several former officials in Kabila’s government should be indicted –including Kabila.
Now for some other problems. The Ebola virus epidemic continues in eastern Congo. Tshisekedi made ending the Ebola epidemic a priority. Health officials say the epidemic has plateaued. That means at the moment it is contained and new cases appear incrementally. Congo, however, has other health challenges. In 2019 a measles epidemic broke out in a couple of provinces then spread nation-wide. Expert estimates are that 6,100 people have died from measles since the outbreak began. This is more than the Ebola epidemic has killed (so far). As for warfare, Tshisekedi promised to bring security to Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. However, “little wars” continue to afflict eastern Congo, with the Ugandan Islamist terror group ADF and the radical Hutu FDLR still conducting attacks. In 2019 the ADF launched several dozen attacks on health facilities and health workers in the Ebola “hot zone” and security forces failed to stop them. It appears the majority of Congolese believe Tshisekedi means well. They also believe Kabila still wields great power and profits from chaos and corruption. (Austin Bay)
January 26, 2020: Burundi’s governing party, the CNDD-FDD, announced Evariste Ndayishimiye will be its presidential candidate for the May election. This means current president Nkurunziza will not run. Nkurunziza had fixed Burundi’s election laws so he could stay in power until 2030 or 2034. That noted, Nkurunziza will himself be well taken care of fixed, with a $500,000 payment and a luxury villa for life.
January 23, 2020: As of January 21 eastern Congo has had 3416 cases of Ebola with 3,297 confirmed and 119 probable cases. There have been 2,238 deaths; a fatality rate of 66 percent.
January 22, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), gunmen killed six civilians in an attack near the city of Beni. The government believes ADF terrorists committed the murders.
January 21, 2020: In Uganda, local officials in districts near Rwanda have condemned the killing of Ugandan citizens by Rwandan security forces. Uganda and Rwanda are embroiled in a series of complex disputes involving border crossings and the reciprocal safety of their citizens who live in the other country. The latest killings and accusations are symptomatic of regional acrimony involving Burundi as well as Uganda and Rwanda. Rwanda accuses Burundi and Uganda of supporting Rwandan rebels who have base camps in Congo. Burundi claims Rwanda backs Burundian rebels based in Congo’s South Kivu province. Uganda claims Rwanda support anti-Ugandan guerrillas who have bases in Congo. Regional diplomats are reportedly encouraged the Congolese and Angolan presidents to try and secure a diplomatic solution.
Meanwhile, Uganda reported several hundred Congolese fled Ituri province and into Uganda. Most of the refugees appear to be Hema tribals. The Hema are cattle herders. The Lendu tribe claims Hema herders have intruded on their farms. Since late 2017 over 700 people have been killed in tribal clashes between Hema and Lendu.
January 17, 2020: National police fired tear gas at an anti-government demonstration in Kinshasa. The protesters were supporting opposition leader and former presidential candidate Martin Fayulu, who had asked his supporters to hold the demonstration. The government banned the demonstration. Police escorted Fayulu from the demonstration area to his home.
January 15, 2020: Congo’s state-run mining company, Gecamines, announced that the Deziwa copper and cobalt mine and processing plant was officially open. The Deziwa complex is a joint venture. The majority-owner is CNMC (China Nonferrous Metal Mining Company). Deziwa is 35 kilometers east of Kolwezi and it contains approximately 4.6 million tons of copper and 420,000 tons of cobalt.
January 14, 2020: Rwanda announced that it supports Congo's military offensive against FDLR Hutu rebels based in eastern Congo (North Kivu and South Kivu provinces).
January 12, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), suspected ADF Ugandan Islamist terrorists killed at least 30 Congolese soldiers and wounded another 70 in a firefight that erupted near the town of Madina. Congolese officials claimed 40 ADF fighters were killed, including five senior ADF leaders.
January 9, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), a South African air force C-130 transport plane crashed while attempting to land in Goma, the provincial capital. There were no casualties. Peacekeepers said the plane was flying a logistics mission with 67 passengers and crew.
In the Congolese capital, 17 prisoners in the Malaka Prison have died in the past week from lack of medicine and food. Makala is Congo’s biggest prison, with over 8,000 inmates. Apparently the prison has received no food supplies since November 2019.
January 8, 2020: South Africa confirmed it will continue to contribute troops to the UN peacekeeper Congo Intervention Brigade (IBDE, also called the Force Intervention Brigade, or FIB) through December 2020. South Africa’s IBDE contingent includes an infantry battalion of 1,300 troops and the Composite Helicopter Unit (CHU) with three Rooivalk combat support helicopters and five Oryx medium transport helicopters.
January 6, 2020: In northeastern Congo (Ituri province) between January 3 and January 6 over 200 militiamen serving with the CODECO (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) rebels surrendered. The government claimed that on January 5, soldiers killed 16 CODECO fighters and captured three.
January 3, 2020: In northeastern Congo (Ituri province), the army announced a new counter-insurgency operation there.
January 1, 2020: In the Central African Republic, peacekeepers and the CAR government have declared the PK5 neighborhood in the national capital a “weapons-free area.” There has been sporadic fighting in PK5 for over six years.
December 31, 2019: In Rwanda, the government confirmed a Rwandan Hutu woman recently sent back from Congo was a known genocidaire. The government claims Angeline Mukandutiye was a “planner and perpetrator” of the 1994 genocide against Rwandan Tutsis.
December 30, 2019: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), ADF terrorists continued their rampage. Local officials reported the confirmed death toll is now 23. The army has ordered more soldiers to the area.
December 29, 2019: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province), ADF terrorists killed attacked a town near the city of Beni and killed at least 18 people. Peacekeepers call this are the Triangle of Death in North Kivu. Three towns near Beni comprise the triangle.
December 26, 2019: The UN reported that over 1.2 million people in the CAR are internally displaced. The CAR has a population of about 4.7 million and 55 percent of them confront food shortages and need emergency aid in order to survive.