Congo: War Criminals Are In Charge


June 2, 2014:   The Congolese government is being accused of killing at least 300 people in retaliation for attacks by a sectarian Katangan opposition group (Ministry for Restoration of Black Africa  or MRAN). In December 2013 supporters of MRAN’s leader, Joseph Mukungubila Mutombo (also known as The Eternal Prophet), launched several coordinated attacks in Congo’s capital, Kinshasha.  The attackers struck the airport, a military barrack and seized a state TV station. The government denied that it has killed members of Mukungubila’s group. However, European investigators have evidence that between 200 and 250 Mukungubila supporters (mostly civilians) were killed by government forces in Katanga province. Another 70 have been killed in Kinshasha. The government has denied the charges and says they are completely false. Mukungubila was a candidate for president in the 2006 election.

June 1, 2014:  The UN has placed 105 Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels who surrendered in late May in a camp in in the town of Kanyabayonga (North Kivu province). All of the men who surrendered are ethnic Hutus. A spokesman for the group has asked the Rwandan government to negotiate with them about terms for returning to Rwanda. The fighters now have families in Congo and they want to bring their families to Rwanda. The leaders who founded the FDLR were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The UN estimates that another 1,400 FDLR rebels remain in Congo.

May 31, 2014: The army continues to pursue Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in North Kivu province.  ADF fighters have fled into Virunga National Park. Army units, with UN support, are also pursuing a Mai-Mai militia force operating in the area. The national park’s jungles and rugged terrain provide a refuge for several defeated militias. In early May, an army unit, supported by a Malawian detachment in the UN Intervention Brigade (IBDE) killed two FDLR fighters in Virunga National Park.

May 30, 2014:  Over 100 guerrillas belonging to the FDLR agreed to surrender. The group met with UN and army personnel in North Kivu province and disarmed.

In the Central African Republic (CAR) government leaders insist that illegal militias and armed groups are attempting to destabilize the government. Cited were two recent attacks, one in which two Burundian peacekeepers were shot and killed as they tried to stop a riot. The other incident was bloodier. On May 28 a group of Moslem gunmen attacked a Christian church in Bangui (the CAR capital) killing 17 people and kidnapped another 27.

May 29, 2014: The army announced that its forces had, over the last four days, driven a group of Ugandan Allied Democratic Force (ADF) rebels from the villages Lesse and Abya (North Kivu province). The soldiers killed 64 ADF fighters and captured one while suffering five wounded. The army also seized several large caches of weapons and ammunition. Apparently elements of the UN Intervention Brigade (IBDE) were involved in the operation.  One reason to believe this is the huge disparity in casualties (64 ADF dead, no Congolese dead). Someone is procuring very accurate tactical intelligence and someone is applying very effective firepower. That is more typical of the IBDE.

May 24, 2014: French peacekeepers in the CAR fought with a group of former Seleka militants near the town of Bambari (northeastern CAR).

May 23, 2014:  The International Court of Justice convicted former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity and four war crimes.  The war crimes charges included pillaging. He was not directly tied to a specific murder but he did procure weapons which his militia used to massacre villagers in northeastern Congo. He will serve twelve years in prison.

May 21, 2014: The UN and the government have launched another rebel disarmament campaign.  The campaign intends to either disband or eradicate some 54 militias which continue to operate in Congo. International donors have promised to provide around $200 million for the program. The program is the Congo’s third major disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program. The first two failed. On May 15 the U.S. announced that it will increase funding support for demobilization programs in Congo. Presumably the other funding will come from the European Union.

May 20, 2014: A group of former Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) declared that it has successfully reorganized. The group claimed that it has a new chain of command and that it is now taking control of rogue bands of former Seleka fighters.

May 16, 2014: South Africa reported that its forces serving with the UN Intervention Brigade in eastern Congo are bivouacked on Triple Tower Mountain near the village of Kibati (North Kivu province). Army units are also in the area. South African and Tanzanian officers in the IBDE said that there is a lull in the fighting in the area.

May 14, 2014: There is another wave of reports of elephant poaching occurring in Congo’s Garamba National park. Park rangers estimate that 33 elephants have been killed in the park since late March 2014. The Ugandan rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA) is on the short list of suspects. The LRA trades elephant ivory and meat for supplies. 




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