Congo: The Mess Next Door

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July 3, 2014: Citing recent attacks on UN peacekeepers serving in the Congo, the UN Security Council has sanctioned the ADF-NALU (Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) rebel militia.  The sanctions include bans on travel by ADF leaders and supporters and denying the ADF access to its financial assets (asset freeze). Like other rebel groups in the eastern Congo, the ADF occasionally manages to sell valuable minerals (including gold) to illicit dealers.  The ADF is a Ugandan rebel organization with Islamist links. It has base camps in the eastern Congo (North Kivu province). Within the last year the Congolese Army and UN Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeepers have attacked and over-run several ADF camps, including a training facility. The UN’s Intervention brigade (IBDE) has participated in at least one of these anti-ADF operations. MONUSCO estimates that the ADF still has 1,200 and 1,500 militia fighters.

July 2, 2014: Critics are describing the UN and African Union peacekeeping effort in the Central African Republic (CAR) as ineffective and too little too late. The numbers make the critics’ case. Over 600,000 people in the CAR are refugees (displaced people); 1.7 to 1.8 million people confront food shortages.  However, the criticisms also sound very familiar. Almost every UN and international peacekeeping operation the central Africa (the region) draws the same complaints. Central Africa is a difficult place in which to operate. Military units and aid organizations confront numerous logistics problems. There are few all-weather roads. There are few all-weather airfields. Keeping several thousand soldiers in the field is also expensive.

June 30, 2014: Uganda announced that it is ready to commit a battalion of soldiers to a regional rapid intervention force.  The official name of the intervention force would be the Eastern African Standby Force.  The Ugandan military said the unit would have 736 soldiers. Rwanda indicated that it is considering committing a motorized infantry battalion to the force. The Rwandan unit would have 850 combat soldiers and 35 medical personnel.

June 28, 2014: Rwanda has accused UN peacekeepers in Congo of letting a senior FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) leader illegally travel to Italy.  FDLR leader Rumuli Michel visited Italy on a travel permit issued in June 2014 by Herve Ladsous, a senior official in the UN’s peacekeeping operations office in New York. Rwanda asserted that this is a violation of UN sanctions.

June 27, 2014: Seleka rebels and several Christian anti-balaka militias in the CAR have agreed to form a joint committee to conduct peace negotiations. The conflict resolution organization PARETO will sponsor the negotiations. The objective is to move from local agreement to national reconciliation.

June 25, 2014:  Opposition party leaders in Uganda warned Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to stop using the Ugandan Army to intimidate his political opponents. The FDC (Forum for Democratic Change) opposes Museveni. It is currently led by a retired Ugandan Army general, Mugisha Muntu who has accused Museveni of misusing government security forces.

Rwanda and Congo confirmed that in mid-June they both sent teams to participate with a UN-sponsored Joint Verification Mission (JVM). The JVM is tasked with conducting observation missions and investigating violent incidents in the region. JVM is investigating the June 12 and June 13 border skirmishes between Rwanda and Congo.

June 24, 2014:  Between 50 and 60 people were killed in fighting between Christian and Muslim tribesmen near the town of Bambari (central CAR, 370 kilometers northwest of Bangui). At least 22 people were killed in the village of Liwa (seven kilometers from Bambari). Clashes continued for two days in and around Bambari.

June 22, 2014:  The UN is continuing to investigate the border skirmishes that occurred June 12 and June 13 along the Congo-Rwanda border. UN observers reported that the Rwanda-Congo border remains “tense.”  Congolese troops remain on alert. Civilian observers reported seeing three Congolese Army armored vehicles in the area north of Goma where the border skirmishes occurred.

June 20, 2014: Rwandan is accusing Congo of starting the series of border skirmishes that began on June 11 and continued until June 13. In turn, the Congolese government accused Rwanda of starting the firefights.

June 19, 2014: The Bakata Katanga militia claimed that sometime in July 2014 it will proclaim the independence of Congo’s Katanga province. A spokesman said that the militia will make the proclamation in the city of

Lubumbashi (Katanga’s provincial capital).

June 18, 2014: Is this another attempt to become a “president for life?” Probably. Burundian opposition groups are objecting to government attempts to change the constitution before the upcoming national elections. The government wants to let President Pierre Nkurunziza run for a third term. Nkurunziza’s opponents are arguing that changing the constitution amounts to declaring a dictatorship.

 

 

 

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