Congo: Fighting To Survive


: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

June 11, 2008: The Congo's lack of infrastructure hinders economic development. Infrastructure development is key to a huge recent Chinese mining contract. Congo needs roads, electricity grid, electricity generation, and airfields. Congo has extensive deposits of cobalt and copper. Power shortages (lack of electrical grid and unreliable electricity) have plagued efforts by both the government and major investors to upgrade the cobalt and copper mines. Katanga's big deposits and working mines are attracting the most attention. As usual, security is another issue. War is a big reason the Congo's electrical grid is damaged or non-existent. Infrastructure protection is obviously a major mission for Congolese police.

June 9, 2008: UN peacekeepers issued an another call to "militia chiefs" in the eastern Congo to fulfill their commitments to disarm. At the moment the UN is primarily focused on Rwandan Hutu militias like the FDLR. At least 6,000 Rwandan Hutu rebels remain in the eastern Congo.

June 5, 2008: A series of attacks north of the eastern Congolese town of Goma (North Kivu province) forced 5,000 people to flee their villages. Rwandan Hutu rebels (FDLR) launched two attacks on June 4, killing six people and injuring 14. The rebels struck a relief camp in Kinyando. Many of these attacks are raids mounted to steal food and supplies, but this attack may have had a clear political motive. Two small Rwandan Hutu factions have been negotiating with the Congolese government. The negotiations have included demobilization and disarmament. The FDLR is trying to discourage Rwandan Hutus from joining the Congolese peace process.

May 26, 2008: The arrest in Belgium of former Congolese vice-president and presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba has caused a ruckus in the Congo. The UN reported that major demonstrations occurred in Equateur province, especially in the city of Mbandaka. Bemba fled the Congo to escape harassment by the Congolese government. On May 24 Belgium arrested Bemba on an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for war crimes committed in the Central African Republic from October 2002 through March 2003. Bemba is head of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), which is the Congo's major opposition party.




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