Congo: The Future Is Dim And Getting Dimmer

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

April 9, 2011: Foreign diplomats are very concerned about security for Congo’s elections later this year. The Congolese Army (FARDC) is supposed to take the lead in providing security, and most of the army is rated by observers as being unreliable. Highly unreliable is likely a better description. At the moment the vote is set for November, but there is already talk that the date may move to a later date. Lack of funds to support the election process is one reason. Donors were supposed to cough up money for the election and that cash has been slow in coming.

April 6, 2011: The UN confirmed that 32 UN workers were killed in a plane crash on April 4. The plane was on a flight from Kisangani to the capital, Kinshasa.

April 5, 2011: The UN is arguing that counter-militia offensives in the eastern Congo have reduced the number of militiamen fighting with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Current FDLR strength is around 2,500 fighters. Two years ago the UN estimated FDLR strength at around 6,000 fighters.

March 29, 2011: Lord's Resistance Army commander Joseph Kony may be back in the Congo. Raids in the Congo by the Ugandan rebel organization have increased in the last four months. Both the Congo and Uganda governments have issued statements that they have intelligence indicating that Kony has moved from the Central African Republic (CAR) back into the Congo. The LRA used to have several large base camps in Congo’s Garamba National Park (northeastern Congo near Uganda). The possible return of Kony helps explain rumors that Congo, Uganda, and UN peacekeepers have been considering launching a new joint anti-LRA offensive in the Congo. The UN has also been stressing civilian protection as a major goal in the Congo. The UN’s focus has been on the eastern Congo (where the FDLR and several Mai Mai militias operate) and northeastern Congo (LRA depredation territory).

March 25, 2011: Soldiers have arrested two members of the Ugandan rebel Allied Democratic Front in North Kivu province and transferred them to Ugandan custody. Congo has promised Uganda that it will cooperate in stopping Ugandan rebel organizations like the LRA and ADF. Congo has made a similar promise to Rwanda. Most Congolese Army operations in North and South Kivu provinces are directed at the Democratics Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

March 21, 2011: Could the Congo’s very divided political opposition decide to back a single candidate to oppose President Joseph Kabila in the November elections? The odds of this occurring are very slim. The tribal divisions are one reason, but Kabila has also been very astute in gaining support from key opposition parties. Kabila’s worst critics say he buys support?literally. They mean he bribes opposition politicians.

March 16, 2011: The government has partially lifted a ban on mining and exporting valuable minerals in the eastern Congo. The ban had affected North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema provinces. The ban was designed to stop the illegal mining and trading of minerals by rogue military units and the rebel militias that operate in eastern Congo. Three minerals were specifically targeted: cassiterite, tantalum and coltan. There were also attempts to stop the illegal mining and selling of gold.

 

 

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