Congo: Voting the Bastards In

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

April 6, 2006: There are 73 candidates running for president in the upcoming elections, and 8,650 candidates for the 500 seat parliament. But the largest party in the country, the UDPS, is boycotting the elections, because they believe the vote is rigged in favor of the existing president Kabila and his cronies. The vote will be the first free election since the 1960s, and is expected to show how split, into regional and tribal factions, the country is.

April 4, 2006: The UN will redeploy peacekeeping troops currently serving in Burundi to the Congo. By the end of 2006, one infantry battalion and 50 military observers will be transferred from Burundi to the Congo.

The European Union said that 1500 EU troops will deploy to the Congo by the end of May to help provide security for June's elections. Germany is leading the operation. Nine other European nations will contribute troops. The EU said approximately 400 of the troops will deploy in and around the Congolese capital of Kinshasha.

April 3, 2006: Congolese rebels ( The Congolese Revolution Movement, or CRM, also called the Congolese Revolutionary Movement) were contacted by the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The Ugandan rebels wanted to establish an alliance with the CRM. The CRM refused the offer. The LRA offered to provide arms and ammunition if the CRM agreed to "merge." There was no independent confirmation of this story but there's no doubt the LRA is hard up for allies. The LRA is being driven out of its camps in south Sudan. The UN believes its operations in the northeastern DRC have damaged the LRA.

March 24, 2006: The UN will increase the number of peacekeepers and humanitarian aid workers deployed in the Congo's Katanga province. Mai Mai militiamen had taken control of parts of Katanga and committed numerous atrocities. The Congolese Army (FARDC) hasn't been able to stop the rogue militias operating in Katanga. Refugees in Katanga have accused the FARDC of stealing from refugees.

March 22, 2006: UN peacekeepers captured a senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader inside the Congo's Garamba National Park. The LRA officer was identified as a captain. The UN said a number of Ugandan LRA rebels have entered the Congo posing as refugees from Sudan.

 

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