Congo: Gold, Guns And Misrule


November 26, 2021: Congo now has evidence that former president Joseph Kabila stole millions of dollars from public funds using a sophisticated form of banking fraud. An alleged “data leak” showed Kabila and his cronies used the Congo branch of the BGFI (Banque Gabonaise et Francaise Internationale) to siphon government accounts and transfer the money to individual and organization accounts they controlled. At one time the Congo subsidiary of BGFI was run by Kabila’s foster-brother and his sister was a major stockholder in the bank. Money from the state mining company Gecamines was also funneled to Kabila’s group through BGFI. The leak provided no overall estimate on the total amount stolen, but the amount is easily in the tens of millions of dollars.

November 24, 2021: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) CODECO (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) rebels carried out several attacks in the last three days yesterday, leaving over 30 civilians dead. An attack on a mining camp yesterday left two Chinese employees dead and eight missing and presumed kidnapped, Chinese working at Chinese mining operations have become favorite targets for kidnapping. CODECO commits a substantial number of the attacks and atrocities in Ituri, as well as across the border in Uganda. The violence in eastern Congo is mainly in Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province. CODECO is predominantly a Lendu tribal organization, as are many of militias in eastern Congo. The federal government declared a state of siege, a form of martial law for these two provinces back in May 2021. It was supposed to be for 30 days but has been extended every month since May, even though a growing number of members in parliament have criticized the effectiveness of the martial law because the police and soldiers appear to be using their enhanced powers to carry out more of their usual corrupt practices. In six months of martial law at least 1,200 have died in these two provinces because of the militia violence.

November 21, 2021: China confirmed five of its citizens were kidnapped in an armed attack on a gold mine in eastern Congo (South Kivu province). One police officer may have been killed in the attack.

November 20, 2021: President Felix Tshisekedi called for a ban on issuing mining permits until Congo’s mining ministry undergoes an audit. Tshisekedi said the government must combat fraud and theft in the mining industry. He specifically targeted reforming the administration of the mining registry system which certifies and records mining concessions. Tshisekedi’s demand for a ban on new permits follows his call for a complete review of the multi-billion dollar “infrastructure-for-minerals” deal Congo struck with China during the Kabila administration.

A Congolese court sentenced two Chinese nationals to ten years and three months in prison for procuring Chinese women to work as prostitutes in Congo. A Congolese official received a ten-year sentence for giving the Chinese conspirators “courtesy visas” for the Chinese women. The court said the official had no authority to grant the visas. With a prostitution procurement trial rare in Congo, the case had drawn the attention of the local media and comments on social networks.

November 19, 2021: In Uganda police killed five suspects and arrested 21 people associated with a suicide bombings three days earlier that killed three people and wounded 33. The 21 arrested are suspected of being members of the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) Islamist militia. Four of the five killed were identified as terrorists who were killed while attempting to flee back to bases in Congo.

In Malawi police fired teargas at demonstrators protesting the high cost of living and alleged corruption in government. The situation was chaotic. Counter-demonstrators were also clashing with the demonstrators. Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau recently issued a report that claims graft continues to plague Malawi’s government. President Lazarus Chakwera won a presidential election in 2020 after the 2019 election was annulled because of vote manipulation.

Chatham House (London) awarded its 2020 Chatham House Prize to Malawi's constitutional court judges. Covid19 problems delayed the award. The award recognized judges' courageous defense of Malawi’s democracy. In February 2020 the judges issued a ruling annulling the corrupt May 2019 presidential election.

November 18, 2021: The United States revoked the 2015 sanctions against Burundi. The sanctions were directed against senior Burundian military and security officials. The U.S. claimed that Burundi made positive reforms in the last year.

November 17, 2021: In eastern Congo at least 144 people have been killed by militia and Islamic terrorist violence since November 1.

November 16, 2021: ISCAP (Islamic State Central African Province) claimed responsibility for suicide bomber attacks in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Three suicide bombers on motorbikes killed at least four people and injured over 30 others. ADF pledged allegiance to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in 2019 and later described itself as ISCAP.

In northwestern CAR (Central African Republic) rebels belonging to the 3R (Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation) faction killed 11 civilians and wounded eight during a firefight. The 3R faction is predominantly manned by members of the Moslem Fulani tribe.

November 15, 2021: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) the FPIC (Fighters of the Patriotic and Integrationist Force in Congo) militia attacked a village and killed at least 17 people. Witnesses claimed some of the victims were burned alive. FPIC claims to represent the interests of the Bira tribe.

November 12, 2021: The UN extended the mandate of the peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic to November 15, 2022. Currently some 14,000 soldiers and uniformed police serve with this force.

November 10, 2021: In northeast Congo (Haut-Uele province) government officials, including members of parliament, have asked the Barrick Gold Corporation to evict amateur miners who have been occupying their closed open-pit and underground gold mine operation that covers 709 square kilometers. Over a century old, Kibali gold mine complex became less profitable to operate over the years and since the 1990s Barrick abandoned the operation because of the violence, which continues. People have been illegally occupying the area as well as seeking to find the remaining gold with simple tools. Enough gold is found to keep the squatters there and Barrick refuses to pay for a large enough security force to keep squatters out. The Kabali complex is one of the largest gold mining operations in Africa.

Across the Congo River in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the government hosted a conference on piracy maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. In 2020 1there were 95 attacks against ships in the Gulf of Guinea. The gulf runs along the west African coast from Senegal to Angola and includes major fishing grounds and areas with extensive oil and gas deposits. The conference was held to coordinate joint actions against pirates and theft of fishing resources. The attacks are carried out mostly by Nigerian pirates who seek to kidnap foreign officers on large ships and hold them for substantial ransoms. Off the Congo coast the threat is mainly from sea-going robbers who take valuables from any fishing boat or larger ship they can take by surprise. In most of the Gulf the robbery attacks are carried out by fishermen who find robbery more lucrative than fishing.

November 8, 2021: In eastern Congo (Kivu province) M23 (March 23 Movement) rebels attacked villages that forced at least 11,000 people to flee across the border to Uganda. The army sent in troops to restore order and kill or capture any M23 rebels still in the area.

In the capital (Kinshasa) police seized $3.5 million worth of ivory, rhinoceros’ horn and pangolin scales. The Congolese action was coordinated with American police operations. On November 3 the U.S. Justice Department arrested two Congolese citizens in Seattle, Washington. The two men were charged with shipping illegal ivory and white rhinoceros’ horn to the U.S. They were also charged with money laundering and providing information that made the later Kinshasa seizure possible.

November 5, 2021: The UN condemned the November 2 attack on Egyptian peacekeepers in the CAR and was seeking to prosecute the attackers as war criminals.

November 3, 2021: In eastern Congo (South Kivu province) armed men launched an attack on a military outpost, killing 11 people. The attackers were later identified as from the CPCA-A64 militia (Coalition of Congolese Patriots for the Application of Article 64). The army killed six of the attackers and captured 36 in defeating the attacks and pursuing the attackers. Three soldiers died and several more were wounded.

November 2, 2021: In CAR (the capital Bangui) members of the presidential guard fired on Egyptian policemen serving with peacekeepers and wounded ten of them. The UN described the incident as a “deliberate and unspeakable attack.” The Egyptian policemen were unarmed and in a bus with UN initials and other markings.

October 30, 2021: The UN has revived a voluntary repatriation program to return CAR refugees living in Congo to their homes. Since 2019 about 5,000 refugees have left Congo and returned to the Central African Republic.

October 29, 2021: Zambia's government confirmed it is working with the International Monetary Fund to restructure its massive debts. Zambia’s latest annual budget is $9.8 billion. However, it’s external debts are around $15 billion.

October 26, 2021: In eastern Uganda Moslem extremists murdered a Christian minister in a remote area and it took a week for the details to reach the national news. The minister had refused to close his church. The Islamists claimed his church was too close to a mosque. Only about twelve percent of the 44 million people in the country are Moslem and most live in eastern and central Uganda. In the more remote area local Moslems accuse the Christian majority of seeking to eliminate Islam in the area. Christians are rarely looking for a fight but conservative Moslems consider it something of an obligation. That’s one reason Christianity is more popular in Uganda.




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