Congo: The Ugandan Gold Train

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May 28, 2018: Fighting continues in the south (Katanga province), the east (North and South Kivu provinces), northeast (Ituri province) and southwest (the Kasai region). All told, the UN estimates this continuing violence has put 400,000 people at immediate risk of starvation and disease. However, the biggest political issue remains Joseph Kabila’s illegal control of the office of president. Congolese election officials are assuring the country that a new election will be held in December 2018 and Kabila will not be a candidate. Right now the opposition’s attitude is “we’ll believe it when we see it.” Congo’s constitution limits the president to two terms. Kabila was supposed to relinquish his office in December 2016. At the moment the election is scheduled to be held December 23.

May 26, 2018: The two most prominent Congolese opposition leaders, Felix Tshisekedi and Moise Katumbi have announced that they are developing a “common agenda” for the December elections. Both men are concerned that Joseph Kabila will try to undermine the elections and remain in power.

May 25, 2018: In eastern Congo (North Kivu) soldiers attacked a base camp of the Islamist Ugandan SDF rebels. Five soldiers and 14 rebels died in the attack while and 13 wounded. Operating near the town of Beni the ADF had been attacking (and often killing) uncooperative civilians.

May 24, 2018: In eastern Congo (Maniema Province) Five people were killed and several others wounded when a Mai-Mai militia attacked the Namoya gold mine. Although the attackers were supported by mortar fire the mine security for the huge open pit mine repelled the assault.

May 21, 2018: Burundi announced that the controversial referendum extending presidential terms had been approved. This constitutional change allows president Pierre Nkurunziza to have two more seven-year terms after his current term expires in 2020. Essentially Nkurunziza could remain in power until 2034.

May 20, 2018: Angola and Portugal have agreed to a new defense cooperation deal involving maritime and cyber security. At one time Angola was a Portuguese colony and now Africa’s second biggest oil exporter. On May 10 a Portuguese court ruled that former Angolan vice president Manuel Vicente could be sent to Angola and tried on money laundering and corruption charges.

May 18, 2018: Ugandan security officials still consider Joseph Kony and his remnant Lords Resistance Army (LRA) a “latent threat.” Ugandan security officials are speculating that since the Ugandan Army and U.S. special operations personnel quit chasing the LRA, the remaining LRA bands, including leader Joseph Kony, have been surviving by poaching on African wild game and smuggling. Ugandan intelligence believes Kony has several hideouts in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo.

May 17, 2018: An anti-balaka militia in the CAR (Central African Republic) killed a UN peacekeeper from Mauritania and wounded eight others. The Mauritanian contingent was ambushed south of the town of Alindao.

In southeast Congo (Tanganyika province), a Mai Mai militia released the last two UN peacekeepers they had kidnapped on May 11. Initially, 13 peacekeepers were taken but the militia immediately released 11.

May 16, 2018: China and Uganda announced a nuclear power deal. China will help Uganda build several nuclear power plants. Uganda has several uranium deposits and wants to use its own uranium to power the reactors.

May 15, 2018: — Rebels in the CAR attacked the town of Bambari. At least six people died in the attack. Officials said the rebel group was a breakaway faction of the Seleka rebel organization.

May 13, 2018: The Rwandan Army confirmed that the first echelon of a battalion sized mechanized infantry task force has deployed the CAR where they join the UN peacekeepers.

May 12, 2018: The UN is asking for an additional $88 million to help feed refugees in southwest Congo (Kasai region.)

May 11, 2018: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) two gunmen killed a park ranger and kidnapped two tourists in Virunga National Park. Since January 1, eight rangers have been killed in Virunga.

May 9, 2018: East African diplomats report relations between Rwanda and Uganda are strained. Uganda is accusing the Rwandan government of interfering in Ugandan domestic politics. Rwandan has denied the allegations. In 2017, several key Ugandan security officials were fired for allegedly maintaining close ties with Rwandan president Paul Kagame. A former senior Ugandan police official, Kale Kayihura, was a close friend of Kagame. Rumors were Kagame wanted Kayihura to succeed Uganda president Yoweri Museveni.

May 2, 2018: Rumors, rumors, rumors. There are claims the Russian mercenary Wagner group has built a training camp in the Central African Republic. The Wagner organization supposedly uses the site to train personnel and store equipment.

May 1, 2018: An attack in the Bangui, capital of the CAR, left 15 people dead and at least 60 injured. One of the dead was a Catholic priest. The attack occurred near the PK 5 district (a predominantly Muslim area). Observers said the fighting began when a “gang” attacked a Catholic Church.

April 30, 2018: A court in Burundi sentenced a government official to three years in jail for encouraging supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza to drown citizens who oppose the constitutional amendment that would permit him to stay in power until 2034.

April 27, 2018: In western Congo (Equateur province) 47 people fleeing Congo drowned when their escape boat capsized and sank in the Ubangi River. The refugees were fleeing an attack by bandits on the town of Dongo. It is believed the bandits belonged to the Enyele militia, which is also called the Independent Movement of Liberation and Allies. They are primarily from the local Lobala tribe.

April 26, 2018: Responding to criticism by the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress, a government spokesman said that Congo will hold national elections in December 2018.

Rwandan investigators found a mass grave outside the capital, Kigali. The grave contains at least 2,000 bodies of individuals murdered in the 1994 genocide.

April 25, 2018: A recent study concluded that the “gold trade” nets Uganda about $200 million a year. The “trade” is a euphemism for smuggling gold from Congo and using Uganda as the transit route for artisanal gold mined in northeastern and eastern Congo (gold mined by small groups of miners).

 

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