Congo: The Target List

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October 13, 2013: The UN has indicated that the Intervention Brigade (IBDE) may target other rogue militias in the Congo after M23 is either defeated or disbands following negotiations. The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) is certainly a potential target. Formed by many of the Rwandan Hutu leaders who engineered the 1994 genocide, the FDLR has already been damaged by attacks. Rwandan and Congolese troops have been moving against the FDLR and that has taken a toll. Several senior FDLR leaders have died in these operations. The FDLR has also suffered in a series of battles with a local militia (the Raia Mutomboki). Still, the FDLR’s main armed organization, FOCA (Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi), fields at least 2,500 armed men. 2 FDLR splinter factions continue to operate in the eastern Congo, the FDLR-RUD and the FDLR-Soki. The FDLR-RUD has a few hundred fighters (400 to 500). There are no figures for the FDLR-Soki, although its leader (Soki Sangano Musuhuke) was allegedly killed in July 2013.  Many splinter factions simply fall apart when the leader dies, but for the moment the FDLR-Soki is recognized as an armed faction. The IBDE could also see action against the Ugandan rebel force the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which operates in North Kivu province. The ADF has links to Somalia’s Islamist Al Shabaab organization. 2 Katangan separatist militias have also been mentioned as possible targets, the Mai-Mai Gedeon and Mai-Mai Kata- Katanga (which has ties to older Katangan separatist movements). Finally, the IBDE could see action against remnant Lord’s Resistance Army cells operating in the Congo.

October 12, 2013: The UN complained that M23 rebels had fired on one of their helicopters as it flew an M23 held area. M23 told the UN that they were warning shots, as they did not like UN helicopters to watch them. 

October 10, 2013: Armed militias thrive in Congo largely because of illegal mining. It’s estimated that rebel groups in the Congo stole around $500 million worth of minerals in 2012. That included an estimated 12 tons of gold smuggled out via Uganda or Burundi and sold to jewelers in the United Arab Emirates or brokers in the Persian Gulf. The rebels also smuggle large quantities of tantalum, tin, and tungsten.

October 9, 2013: M23 rebels in Congo’s North Kivu province have been observed improving their positions near the Congo-Rwanda border. M23, however, said that the UN was merely observing normal troop movements and then accused the Congo of reinforcing its military positions in the area.

October 8, 2013: In the Central African Republic (CAR) at least 30 people have been killed in fighting in and around the town of Garga (200 kilometers north-west of Bangui, the capital). For 2 days fighters loyal to former president Bozize have been clashing with local defense groups there.  Forces loyal to the Seleka group, which now controls the country, have also approached the town. Most of the townspeople have fled into the countryside to escape the chaos. Former rebels (in this case likely Seleka rebel fighters) looted a clinic in the area. Meanwhile, the UN and African Union are trying to organize a peacekeeping force of 3,500 troops for the CAR.

At the UN in New York, the leaders of Rwanda and Uganda argued that their countries are not responsible for the chaos in Congo’s eastern provinces. The presidents of both countries said they cannot bring peace to the eastern Congo. That is the job of the Congolese government and the Congolese people. Both Rwanda and Uganda claim that the Congolese government cannot control its own army and foreigners are not responsible for that situation.

October 4, 2013: The U.S. has formally sanctioned the government of Rwanda for its support of the M23 Congolese rebel organization. The U.S. has concluded that Rwandan officials have provided aid, despite the Rwandan government’s denials. The Rwandan government immediately objected to the U.S. sanctions, but opposition political leaders welcomed the U.S. decision. The American sanctions deal with U.S. military equipment sales and U.S. military education and training services.

October 3, 2013: Kenya asked Uganda to help track down individuals suspected of helping organize the recent Islamic terrorist attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi. Kenyan police believe a German national with connections to Al Shabaab fled into Uganda after the attack.

Congo announced that talks with M23 negotiators in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, will continue for at least another week. The Congo commended Uganda for helping organize the talks.

October 2, 2013: The president of Uganda challenged dissident general David Sejusa to try and launch a revolution to overthrow him. Sejusa has been living in exile in Great Britain since May 2013. Prior to entering exile, Sejusa had been chief of Uganda’s intelligence services. Recently Sejusa called on the people of Uganda to remove president Museveni from power.

October 1, 2013: China’s aid- for- resources deal is once again stirring political controversy in the Congo. The deal is for at least $6.5 billion dollars (and possibly as much as $9 billion).  In exchange for guaranteed access to copper, cobalt, and other minerals, Chinese construction companies will build roads, medical clinics, hospitals, and educational facilities. However, some funds China provided have already disappeared. Opposition leaders claim that $300 million is not accounted for.

September 28, 2013: Police and customs officials in North Kivu province seized almost 400 kg (880 pounds) of coltan (a mineral form of tantalum, which is used in the manufacturing of many high-technology electronics devices).

September 27, 2013: Several dozen civilians were attacked and wounded in North Kivu province. Victims were unable to identify a particular militia.

In CAR Islamic terrorists (probably from Sudan) kidnapped a Catholic priest from a mission station in the town of Bouar. The crime probably occurred on September 27th.  The kidnappers also looted the mission. A local resident working at the mission was also kidnapped but was later released. Former Seleka rebels also attacked the village of Herba and killed 2 people.

 

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