Congo: North Korea Foiled Again

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

 

February 24, 2010: North Korea tried to break the UN weapons embargo on Congo, and was caught. South Africa revealed that, three months ago, it seized several containers of spare parts for T-55 tanks. The crew of the French ship transporting the containers were suspicious of the contents, and asked port authorities in South Africa to investigate. The containers had been put on the French ship in Malaysia (a growing center for arms trafficking), and were marked "bulldozer parts." The containers had earlier been shipped from North Korea to China, changed ships, and carried to Malaysia.

February 22, 2010: Is the government setting the stage for renewed civil war? President Joseph Kabila recently fired some cabinet ministers and moved appointees from one job to another. He also eliminated 11 cabinet positions (shrinking from 54 to 43). The moves were expected. However, no former rebels were appointed to positions. The various peace agreements promised that members of rebel organizations that turned in their weapons and became political parties would be rewarded with government jobs. Rebel commanders were led to believe they would get major positions. But that did not occur. As it is, several former rebels have been complaining about the lack of lower-level government jobs.

February 18, 2010: The government and the government of Rwanda have reached an agreement to exchange refugees. This has been in the works for some time. However, simply reaching an agreement is not going to solve what has become a major ethnic and political issue in eastern Congo. Around 50,000 Congolese Tutsis fled the Congo for Rwanda and have been there for several years. Approximately 90,000 Rwandans (mostly Hutus) went the other way, fleeing Rwanda for the Congo. Some reports put the number of Rwandans at 100,000. The basic agreement calls for voluntary repatriation. It remains to see how many refugees agree to move voluntarily. The Hutu rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FDLR) specifically targeted Congolese Tutsis. That noted, the UN recently reported some Congolese Tutsis have returned to the Congo.

February 16, 2010: FDLR rebels killed seven women in South Kivu province, after being kidnapped. This is likely another case of gang rape.

February 13, 2010: The Ugandan rebel Lords resistance Army still presents a threat to northeastern Congo. Some 30,000 Congolese are still refugees inside neighboring Sudan. The LRA has regrouped in the region and is operating in small, mobile units. This typically means from four to 12 people.

February 12, 2010: The UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) denied that it had issued an ultimatum that rebel militias only had 45 days to disarm. That was an order of the Congolese government. Rebel groups were to disarm, and some would be allowed to join the Congolese Army (FARDC).

February 11, 2010: It has taken seven weeks but international observers are confirming six militia attacks in the Ituri region of Orientale Province (northeastern Congo, near the Uganda border). The fighting took place two months ago, when the Popular Front for Justice in the Congo (FPJC) and the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front (FRPI) clashed. One of these militias is suspected of launching an attack on several villages south of the town of Bunia on January 12, 2010, leaving six people dead.

 

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