Congo: Coup Shot Down

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

March 15, 2011: The Congo government arrested two men from Nigeria in connection with a gold smuggling operation. The international ring involved a French businessman and an American businessman from Texas. Allegedly, the big break in the case occurred in early February. The syndicate was attempting to fly a half-ton of gold from the Congo to somewhere in the US. The arrests and the story demonstrate just how confident mineral smugglers are. They have a sense of impunity because they have gotten away with it for so long. Estimates vary, but the RUMINT (rumor intelligence) says from 60 to 80 percent of Congolese gold gets smuggled out of the country. A lot of the gold moves by air freight.

March 11. 2011: Following reports of new Lord's Resistance Army attacks in northeastern Congo (Orientale province), the UN is urging the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to increase its security presence in the region. The UN estimates that in the last 40 months the LRA (Ugandan rebels) have killed 2,000 people and abducted 3,000 in the Congo.

March 5, 2011: Congo’s presidential elections are scheduled for March 27. In the wake of the February 27 attack in Kinshasha, the government expects violence to escalate.

March 2, 2011: The commander of the rebel militia the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) was killed during a joint combat operation involving UN forces and the Congolese Army. The commander, Colonel Emmaneul Nsengiyuma, was slain in North Kivu province. The UN regards the FPLC as an ally of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the militia with links to Hutu extremists involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The official name of the joint UN-Congo offensive operation in the eastern province is Operation Amani Leo.

February 27, 2011: The government claimed armed gunmen attacked the official residence, in the capital,  of Congolese president Joseph Kabila. Kabila was not at home. The half hour attack was repulsed and seven gunmen were killed by presidential guards. Later that day, a group of presidential guardsmen went to the Kokolo military barracks in Kinshasha and arrested several people suspected of being involved in the attack. The presidential guards are an elite unit composed of the best soldiers and policemen in the country. They are also personally loyal to Kabila. By the end of the day the government referred to the attack as a coup attempt.

February 17, 2011: A senior Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) commander surrendered to UN forces (MONUSCO). The official report said the commander was in charge of recruitment for the FDLR. A MONUSACO spokesman said the commander (identified as a lieutenant-colonel) was also in charge of mobilizing civilian support for the FDLR in the eastern Congo. That means he was a senior political officer.

February 8, 2011: MONUSCO reported that 1,881 FDLR rebels (64 senior off them senior officers or political officials) voluntarily surrendered to UN forces during 2010. MONUSCO will not make the mistake of saying that the FDLR is defeated, but MONUSCO officers believe the surrender statistics speak for themselves. Despite the FDLR’s involvement in the illegal mining business and various (lucrative) smuggling enterprises, constant attacks by the UN and Congolese Army have made life difficult.

 

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