Congo: Violence Shifts To The Central African Republic

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December 10, 2013: In late November reports cropped up in the Congo, Uganda, and Central African Republic (CAR) that Joseph Kony, the notorious senior commander of the Ugandan rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), was prepared to discuss surrender terms. The Ugandan military said it welcomed the news. Rumors regarding Kony’s impending surrender crop up every couple of years. The most serious appeared in 2006 and 2007. But he didn’t come in from the bush. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Kony on numerous charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. At one time the Ugandan government told an LRA mediator that if Kony surrendered he would be tried in Ugandan courts, not by the ICC. Kony apparently didn’t believe the offer was real. As it is, the official Ugandan government line is that it will not protect Kony from the ICC. Not surprisingly the November reports proved to be false. LRA cadres continue to launch occasional attacks in the Congo and the CAR, though said LRA attacks reported in the region during the January-June 2013 time frame were down by 50 percent compared to 2012. In November South Sudan dispatched an army battalion to provide security in an area residents claimed was threatened by the LRA.

December 9, 2013: French soldiers in the CAR engaged militia gunmen in a series of firefights in the capital, Bangui. On December 5, the UN authorized the French contingent to reinforce African Union peacekeepers in the CAR. The French military has an offensive mandate similar to that of the UN’s Intervention Brigade (IBDE) in the Congo. The French forces have orders to disarm rival Christian and Muslim tribal militias and the French forces are allowed to use lethal force against militia groups that refuse to disarm. The Seleka rebel movement, which toppled CAR president Francois Bozize in March 2013, drew its strength from Muslim tribes, many of them from the northern CAR. Since Bozize’s government fell, however, the country has descended into chaos. Observers in Bangui indicated that the Seleka rebel commander who became the interim president, Michel Djotodia, no longer has control of Seleka’s various militia factions. There are Seleka rebels fighting with the Muslim militias in Bangui. However, no one is quite sure if a particular militia is loyal to the rebel government. Some 450-500 people have been killed in Bangui since December 5, the day a Christian tribal militia loyal to Bozize entered the city. France now has around 1,600 soldiers in the CAR.

December 8, 2013: The UN estimated that 72,000 people have fled from their neighborhoods in Bangui, the capital of CAR. Many of them have collected near the city’s international airport. The airport is also the headquarters of French military forces and the African Union peacekeeping troops in the CAR.

December 5, 2013: The Congo government and the UN continue to discuss the next target of MONUSCO’s (UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Congo) Intervention Brigade (IBDE). Several UN officials have mentioned the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Rwandan Hutu rebel group. The UN recently estimated the FDLR has 1,500 armed fighters and could well be a tougher opponent than the M23 rebel group the IBDE and Congolese forces defeated in early November. The FDLR is led by Hutus directly involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Rebellion is one thing, genocide another. The FDLR may have no choice but to fight to the last. Uganda would like the IBDE to go after the Islamist extremist rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Uganda has told the UN that ADF terrorists have kidnapped around 300 people in the last year. The ADF has ties to the Somali Islamist rebel group, Al Shabaab, which is an ally of Al Qaeda. The Ugandan military says it has evidence that the ADF has received ammunition, weapons, and other supplies from Islamist groups. The weapons include heavy recoilless rifles (107 millimeter, according to one source). Uganda has peacekeepers operating in Somalia with the AU’s AMISOM force. The ADF began in 1996, as a minor opposition group run by Moslem tribesmen. It was largely destroyed in 2004, but the fanatic survivors persisted, and now support from other Islamic terrorist groups have enabled ADF to grow and become more radical.

December 4, 2013: An estimated 1,000 M23 militia fighters are now interned in Uganda. Their final status is yet to be determined.

December 3, 2013: MONUSCO peacekeepers have now deployed drone recon aircraft in the Congo. Two Italian-made Falco surveillance drones are operating out of Goma (North Kivu province).

December 1, 2013: The Ugandan military reported that its forces killed 14 LRA fighters in the CAR. The Ugandan Army used intelligence information provided by the U.S., which also has 100 special operations advisers assigned to help African military units fight the LRA and bring LRA senior commander Joseph Kony to justice. Among the LRA dead was Colonel Samuel Kangul, who has been identified as fourth in the LRA’s chain of command. Kangul was reportedly the LRA’s chief supply officer. The Ugandan military stopped anti-LRA operations after Seleka rebels took over the CAR in April of this year. Surveillance operations recommenced during the summer.

November 30, 2013: The Sheka Mai-Mai militia has told the government and the head of MONUSCO that it will disarm. The Sheka Mai-Mai is is led by Sheka Ntabo Ntaberi, who refers to his group as a self-defense force. However, militiamen under his command have been accused of murder and mass rape.

November 29, 2013: Congolese President Joseph Kabila visited the town of Rutshuru (North Kivu province). M23 rebels occupied Rutshuru for over a year. Kabila told residents that he intends to end the 20 years of war which have plagued the Congo.

November 27, 2013: Rebel Ugandan military officer general David Sejusa (also known as Tinyefuza) has called on Ugandans to peacefully remove current president Yoweri Museveni.  Sejusa was head of Ugandan intelligence services until he defected and fled to Great Britain in April 2013. He has now allied with the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF), which is run by Ugandan exiles opposed to Museveni. Museveni, however, has stated that Sejusa wants to start an armed rebellion.

 

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