The UN’s Force Intervention Brigade (IBDE) is back in action in the eastern Congo. Elements of the IBD attacked rebels in the Allied Democratic Forces ADF-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU). The IBDE attack included fire from the brigade’s armed helicopters which supported an attack by the Congolese Army (FARDC) on the town of Kamango. ADF rebels seized the town earlier in the month and then kidnapped and murdered several civilians. The ADF is an Islamist organization and the Ugandan government contends that the ADF is allied with Somalia’s radical Al Shabaab Islamist militia. Earlier this month 200 IBDE soldiers and an armed helicopter aided the Congolese Army in an operation against the Rwandan rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The FDLR is an extremist Hutu group Senior FDLR commanders helped plan and execute the 1994 Rwandan genocide. UN officials now estimate that the FDLR has 1,500 to 1,800 fighters, but only 30 percent of the current fighters are Rwandan Hutus. The group has recruited the other 70 percent of its members from tribes in the eastern Congo.
December 25, 2013: French peacekeepers in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), deployed armored vehicles to defend the Bangui airport. An estimated 70,000 civilians have collected near the airport to escape the fighting between Muslim militias and Christian and animist tribal militias. The situation in the CAR is chaotic. The hard core Muslim militias are manned by Seleka rebels, though they are no longer loyal to the Seleka interim government. The interim CAR government refers to them as rogue militias. The Christian and animist militias now refer to themselves as the anti-balaka, which means anti-machete in the Sango language. Christian and animist tribal leaders accuse the Muslim militias of attacking unarmed civilians and mutilating and killing them with machetes.
France has 1,600 soldiers in the CAR. African nations have deployed around 3,000 peacekeepers to the CAR as part of the MISCA peacekeeping operation. Burundi, Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon have contributed forces. Burundi has a contingent in Bangui. Gabon has troops in Bouar (western CAR). The Congo (Brazzaville) and Cameroon contingents are based in northwestern CAR (towns of Paoua and Bossangoa). Chad has troops in Bangui, Bangassou (southeast) and Ndele (north). The Chad contingent in Bangui is withdrawing after officials accused the Chadian soldiers of siding with the Muslim militias. Burundian soldiers accused Chadian soldiers of attacking them while they were disarming a militia in Bangui. The Burundians returned fire and wounded three Chad soldiers.
December 23, 2013: In Kiwanja (north Kiu province) Congolese troops arrested a rebel leader Kakule “Shetani” Muhima. wholeads the Mai Mai Shetani militia. Muhia’s nickname is Shetani, which translates as Satan. In late November Muhima had indicated he wanted to sign a peace deal with the government. However, Muhima is wanted on numerous charges, including looting.
December 22, 2013: Muslim demonstrators in Bangui protested the presence of French troops in the CAR and the militia disarmament campaign being directed by the French peacekeepers. The Muslims demonstrators also alleged that the French had entered the CAR to protect Christians and no one else. French officials said the Muslim demonstrators were supporters of the Seleka rebel group. Central African Republic's former rebel group Seleka protested Sunday against French troops conducting a disarmament operation.
December 20, 2013: The Congo government said that some former M23 will be eligible for amnesty. Former rebels who are not guilty of committing serious crimes can apply for amnesty. The government agreed to an amnesty program in the December 12 agreement which officially ended M23’s insurgency. The amnesty program will cover “acts of insurrection” committed from May 8, 2009 to the date the Congolese parliament officially approves the peace settlement.
December 16, 2013: The UN says it has evidence that M23 rebels now in Rwanda are trying to recruit new members.
UN peacekeepers reported an unidentified armed group killed at least 20 people in an attack on two villages in North Kivu province. Civilians in North Kivu accused a Ugandan Islamist rebel group (ADF-NALU, or Allied Democratic Forces-National Army Liberation of Uganda) of being responsible.
The CAR’S interim president and one-time Seleka leader, Michel Djotodia, announced that he is willing to discuss amnesty for both Muslim and Christian militias now fighting one another. Djotodia has acknowledged that he no longer has effective control over many former Seleka rebel groups. When Djotodia made the announcement he said that he had been contacted by Christian and animist tribal militia leaders. The leaders told him they wanted representation in a transitional government.
Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) soldiers raided a compound belonging to Colonel Marcel Ntsourou, a former senior intelligence agency officer who is now on the outs with the government. The raid took place in Brazzaville. Ntsourou is charged with involved in the 2012 major explosion at a weapons depot which left 280 dead and injured 2,500. Ntsourou and his bodyguards returned fire and an extended firefight ensued that left over 40 dead, including two soldiers. Ntsourou was subsequently arrested. The Brazzaville rumor mill claimed that Republic of Congo president President Denis Sassou Nguesso believed Ntsourou intened to launch a coup and used the explosion as an excuse to arrest him.
December 14, 2013: Ugandan rebel general David Sejusa announced he has formed a political party dedicated to overthrowing Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, the Freedom and Unity Front. Sejusa has been in exile in London since May 2013. Museveni has been in power 28 years. Sejusa alleges that Museveni intends to hand over power to his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
December 13, 2013: Anicet Dologuele, a senior CAR political leader and a former chairman of the Central African Development Bank said that the French and African peacekeeping forces in the CAR have a very difficult job. French and MISCA soldiers are going to have to fight a war against the Seleka rebel movement and interim president Michel Djotodia has to do more to try to stop the militia violence. At one time Djotodia was Seleka’s senior commander.
UN peacekeepers in Congo’s North Kivu province have found a large M23 weapons and ammunition dump on a hill near the village of Chanzu (Congo-Uganda border). Officials said soldiers found heavy weapons at the dump and enough ammunition to supply M23 for up to a year.
UN officials reported that 2,300 rebel fighters in eastern Congo have surrendered since the end of October. Many of the surrendering rebels belonged to M23 but several hundred members of the Rwandan Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) have also surrendered.
December 12, 2013: The Congo government has signed an agreement with representatives of the M23 rebel group which officially ends M23’s insurgency. Negotiators signed the deal in Nairobi. The agreement calls for an amnesty program. However, the government said that there will be no blanket amnesty.
Uganda reported that 19 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters have surrendered to Ugandan troops operating in the CAR. The Ugandan Army contingent operating in the CAR has an African Union (AU) mandate.
December 11, 2013: Two French peacekeepers were killed in fighting in Bangui, the capital of the CAR.