Congo: Greed Conquers All

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March 22, 2015: In February the UN confronted the Congolese government regarding two Congolese generals  (Gen. Bruno Mundevu and Gen. Fall Sikabwe) who face serious war crimes charges.  The UN said that it would not participate in the long-planned offensive against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group if these two generals were in command of Congolese forces in the area of operations and even asked the government to relieve the officers. Both generals had commands in North and South Kivu provinces (primary area of anti-FDLR operations).  The generals face serious human rights violations charges. Congo refused to remove the generals and in late February began the offensive on its own. The offensive continues, at a slow pace.  However, the political rupture has not healed. Congolese officials are now telling the UN it is time for Congo to (paraphrase) “assume responsibility for its own security.”  That sounds like code language for telling the UN to get out. The Congolese government has asked the UN to reduce its Congo peacekeeping force from around 20,000 to 7,000. UN officials in Congo and at UN headquarters say that this is a recipe for disaster. A recent UN report found that over the past 15 years Congo has made slow but evident progress. So what’s the bottom line? The UN bottom line: the UN is in a bind. A senior UN officials was quoted as saying (paraphrase) that the UN must not be forced to choose between defeating rogue insurgent groups and defending human rights. The Congo bottom line: If forced to choose between cooperation with the UN to stabilize Central Africa or continue the same old systematic corruption, Congolese elites opt for the same old systematic corruption. (Austin Bay)

March 21, 2015: Tanzanian peace negotiators warned that Burundi’s civil war could reignite if the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, runs for a third term. Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005. The constitution limits the president to ten years in office.

March 20, 2015: Authorities in Cameroon claimed that a Central African Republic (CAR) rebel group had crossed the border and kidnapped 16 people in the town of Babio. The government suspects that members or former members of the Seleka guerrilla group committed the crime.

March 19, 2015: The Congolese government claimed that the army detained or captured 200 FDLR rebels since its anti-FDLR offensive began in late February.  Most (118 of the 200) were captured during the attack on an FDLR base in Virunga National Park. The UN estimates that some 1,400 FDLR fighters still remain in the field. UN officials acknowledge that the UN Intervention Brigade (IBDE) is not participating in the offensive.

The government reported that Congolese Army soldiers battled rebel fighters in the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS). The engagement took place in the Masisi territory west of Goma (eastern Congo, North Kivu province).

March 18, 2015: Zambia announced that it would send 500 soldiers to serve with peacekeeping contingents in the CAR (Central African Republic).

March 16, 2015: The European Union announced the deployment of a new advisory mission to the CAR. EUMAM RCA will work as a training group to improve security within the CAR. The operation will be headquartered in Bangui and will coordinate its work with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The U.S. is supporting UN peacekeeping operations in the CAR. Three of the support camps in the CAR used by UN peacekeepers have been built by the U.S. Army. The camps are Force Provider type base camps built to house 150 soldiers. The U.S. Army will construct three more camps in the CAR.

March 11, 2015: The UN announced that it has blacklisted seven Congolese Army officers. The UN contends that the officers are “at risk” for committing human rights violations during Congolese Army operations. The UN screened 124 Congolese Army and national police officers. MONUSCO will not be allowed to provide support for the “at risk” seven.

March 10, 2015: The Congolese Army claimed it had seized a major FDLR rebel base located within Congo’s enormous Virunga National Park. The government also claimed that the army fought a series of battles in and around the base. In the various actions, Congolese forces killed 62 rebels and captured 118.  The government did not provide further details. UN peacekeepers are not participating in the operation.

March 6, 2015: British human rights activists accused the Congolese Army in eastern Congo of being “almost as bad” as rogue militia forces when it comes to committing crimes against vulnerable civilians.

March 1, 2015: The Congolese Army claimed that its troops had killed seven FDLR fighters since it began its new offensive against the rebel group. Operations began the last week of February in North and South Kivu provinces.

 

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