Congo: And The Evil Warlord Of The Month Is...

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

May 3, 2012: The army has engaged some 500 well-armed militiamen in several firefights in North Kivu province. As a result, some 5,000 villagers have fled the battle area in Masisi territory. Approximately half of the displaced have crossed the border into Rwanda to escape the fighting. The militiamen are former Congolese soldiers. Some of the rebels are former Mai Mai militiamen but many of them belonged to the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). Thus is Laurent Nkunda’s old group, which was originally a Congolese Tutsi organization. Nkunda was arrested in January 2009, by Rwandan forces operating in the Congo. According to Rwandan sources he remains under house arrest in Rwanda. The revived CNDP militia leaders began defecting from the Congolese Army earlier this year. The defectors claim they remain loyal to former CNDP leader Jean Bosco Ntaganda, who denies any ties to the rogue militiamen. Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. The Congolese government has resisted arresting him, though in April President Joseph Kabila indicated that Ntaganda should be turned over to the ICC. On May 2nd the government once again called for Ntaganda’s detention after senior government officials in North Kivu province claimed that Ntaganda has links to the notorious Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The FDLR’s original cadres were Rwandan Hutus, connected to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The FDLR allegations are new, since Ntaganda is regarded as a hero by many Congolese Tutsis.

April 30, 2012: A major mining company reported that it intends to re-open a gold mine concession in the eastern Congo’s Ituri region. The Mongbwalu mine (near the town of Mongbwalu) is really a mining area, covering some six thousand square kilometers. Several security officials, however, believe attempts to take control of the concession could spark renewed warfare. Individual or small-scale teams of miners have occupied the huge concession. Many of these miners are former rebels and militiamen, so they can readily pick up arms and fight the Congolese Army for control of the area. The miners have something to fight for. Gold miners can earn up to $80 a day, which is high pay in the Congo. How many are there? Good question. Estimates vary, though 50,000 artisanal miners working in and near the concession is one figure. Some sources say there could be well over 100,000 who work part-time.

April 29, 2012: Five people died in a firefight in North Kivu province between the Congolese Army and a group of militiamen. The battle took place near Goma (city on the Rwanda-Congo border). UN peacekeepers operating with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) have deployed near Goma to protect civilians.

April 23, 2012: Two Congolese Army colonels were ambushed and killed by a militia force in North Kivu province, near the town of Walikale.

April 14, 2012: Congolese president Joseph Kabila has reportedly told the army that former CNDP commander Jean Bosco Ntaganda should be turned over to the ICC for prosecution. Ntaganda, however, currently holds the rank of general in the army. Kabila’s decision is something of a surprise. The ICC warrants are not new, they were issued in 2006. Arresting Ntaganda might lead many Congolese Tutsis to rebel. The ICC indicted Ntaganda for employing child soldiers. He is also wanted on murder and rape charges. Ntaganda denies the charges and contends that he remains loyal to the central government.

April 13, 2012: UN investigators alleged that former CNDP commander Jean Bosco Ntaganda is operating a criminal network in North Kivu province. Ntaganda’s group allegedly smuggles various mineral from the Congo for export through other east African nations.

April 9, 2012: The UN reported that the special light infantry battalion funded and trained by the United States is now operating in the north-eastern Congo. The unit is assigned to fight the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) Ugandan rebel group. The light infantry battalion is coordinating its operations with MONUSCO peacekeepers. MONUSCO has established a base in the town of Dungu to coordinate regional efforts against the LRA, to include anti-LRA operations in South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

April 3, 2012: MONUSCO has now authorized 19,229 total uniformed personnel, 17, 129 are military soldiers assigned to units while 733 are military observers and 1,367 are uniformed paramilitary police.

 

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