Too Many Bandits, Not Enough Peacekeepers
September 15, 2005: The 16,700 U.N. peacekeepers in Congo are costing over a
billion dollars a year to maintain, and it isn't enough. Right now, most of the
UN troops are concentrated in the north, to try and deal with Tutsi and Hutu
militias. But in the south, local tribal gangs (the Mai-Mai, a traditional
hunting society) are raiding at will. Government troops cannot deal with the Mai
Mai, and UN troops are not available. When the situation in the north is taken
care of, the Mai Mai will become a priority.
September 15, 2005: The
army rebellion in the eastern Congo continues to sputter along. The Congo's
military commander in North Kivu (8th Military Region) said another 350 Congo
soldiers had "defected" to general Laurent Nkunda's "rebel force." The defecting
troops primarily came from the 124th Battalion of the Congo army, stationed in
the town of Katale. Most of the soldiers were ethnic Tutsis. The defections took
place last week. Since the 124th bolted, a new Congo army battalion has moved
into Katale. Nkunda may have established a headquarters in the town of Kichanga
(which isn't far from the Rwandan border).
September 10, 2005: General
Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi warlord, is assembling a force of gunmen in
northern Congo, and has announced his plans for overthrowing the government.
Nkunda believes the government has it in for the Tutsi (who were the last group
to settle the area over a century ago, and are still considered "outsiders"),
and vows to strike first. Most of Nkunda's guys are little more than bandits.
But they are armed, and do not hesitate when it comes to killing, looting and
September 7, 2005: The government has ordered foreign gunmen to
leave the Congo by the end of September, or face attack from government troops
and UN peacekeepers.