Congo: Going For The Gold

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
September 19, 2006: A major fire erupted in the Kinshasha headquarters of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba. The building also is headquarters for two television stations owned by Bemba. One person was hurt in the blaze. The government was not sure what started the blaze, but remember, the government is headed by Bemba's rival, current president Joseph Kabila. After the fire, Kabila supporters demonstrated in Kinshasha and some threw stones at UN peacekeeping vehicles which were deployed to help protect firefighters. An arsonist attacking Bemba's headquarters would get a twofer: the opposition candidate loses his political headquarters and his media operation is also hindered.
September 18, 2006: Why fight over the Congo? On reason is geography: Congo is the center of Africa. The Congo is also a vast treasure of mineral resources. Katanga region has large copper deposits and also cobalt, Ituri province (northeast Congo), scene of intense fighting, has commercial gold deposits. So does South Kivu (where a mining company is currently exploring a new deposit). What would a "sustainable" peace in Congo mean to the mining industry? The World Bank projects a jump from $20 million in loans for mining operations in Congo (2006) to $500 million by 2009. Corporations that abandoned the Congo because of the war are interested in returning.
September 17, 2006: Congolese, Ugandan, and UN military representatives met to discuss how best to handle movements by remaining LRA (Lords Resistance Army) rebel forces. Uganda has repeatedly complained that Congo and the UN have let the LRA operate out of forest areas near the Ugandan border. At the moment the ceasefire between Uganda and the LRA continues to hold. LRA rebels are moving to assembly areas in south Sudan. Uganda wants Congo and UN peacekeepers to help insure that LRA rebels do not move into Uganda.
September 15, 2006: EUFOR (European Force in the Democratic Republic of Congo) will continue to keep its troops in Congo at least through the October run-off election. EUFOR 's senior officers described the situation in Congo as "militarily stable" but "politically sensitive" �" meaning that where peacekeepers are violence is minimized but the divisions between the supporters of current president Joseph Kabila and opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba remain real and deep.

 

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