March 19, 2006:
The fighting in Congo has been going on for over a decade, leaving millions dead. Most of the fighters are irregulars. There are about 100,000 armed men in the country, a bit more than half of them belong to pro-government forces. These, plus the UN peacekeepers, are trying to disarm the warlord controlled rebel gunmen.
Rebel Armed Groups;
FDLR (Forces démocratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda/Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), these are a mix of ex-FAR (former Forces Armées Rwandaises/Armed Forces of Rwanda, the former Hutu-dominated Rwandan army) and Interahamwe (the militia responsible for the 1994 genocide of the Rwandan Tutsis). This is the biggest group of bad guys in the country, with over 5,000 of them in eastern Congo. They cannot go back to Rwanda, for there they would be arrested for war crimes.
ADF-NALU (Army for the Liberation of Uganda)- Moslems from Uganda.
PRA (People's Redemption Army). More Ugandan rebels.
LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). Ugandan terrorist group.
FNL (Forces Nationales de Libération-Forces for National Liberation/Parti pour la Libération du Peuple Hutu-Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People). Rebels from Burundi
FLEC (Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda /Cabinda Liberation Front). Operating in southern Congo.
FAZ. These are former soldiers, who served to the deceased Congolese dictator Mobutu. They often operate out of the other, smaller, country called Congo (whose capital is Brazzaville
Pro-Government Armed Groups:
United Nations Peacekeepers, who are the only foreign troops fighting for the government. There are 18,000 peacekeepers, and it's not enough.
The Congolese army is actually all of the forces below, plus a few brigades to troops who are not former militiamen or warlord followers.
Mai-Mai - These are tribal militias, many armed with bows, instead of AK-47s. There are over ten thousand of these fighters, organized into 50-100 different groups. The number of Mai-Mai varies, as there are all part timers.
Former warlord gunmen (RCD, MLC, FAC) that are currently being merged, with varying degrees of success, into the Congolese army. The major problem with these guys is that many still have ties to their warlord leaders. One of the RCD leaders, Laurent Nkunda, can switch between pro and anti government positions every few days.
Katangese Tigers are the former Katanga separatists that have been operating out of Angola for decades, until they made peace with the government.
Ituri militia (MRC, FNI, FRPI, UPC, PUSIC) are generally loyal to the government, especially if they have been paid recently. But this is mainly a collection of warlords, not all of whom are really pro-government.
GR/GSSP (presidential guard), supposed to be the most loyal troops, but only about a brigades worth.