Congo: Election Related General Maneuvers

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August 2, 2018: For a change, the UN has been succinct. UN investigators reported on what was going with Congo’s national elections: “Armed actors continuously used the delay in the electoral process to promote acts of violence.” President Joseph Kabila has been the chief beneficiary of the political violence. Though he claims he is going to step down after the scheduled December 23, 2018 election few opposition political leaders believe it. Kabila has already shredded the constitution by failing to leave office in December 2016. Moreover, Kabila’s supporters in the judiciary are threatening Moise Katumbi with prosecution. Katumbi, who is still living in exile, is the strongest opposition candidate. He once served as Katanga province’s governor. Some opposition leaders and international diplomats see another scenario. They contend what Kabila wants is immunity from future prosecution for the various crimes he was committed while in office. These include theft, extortion and ordering the security forces to attack unarmed civilians. In June Kabila asked parliament to review the status of former Congolese presidents, in regards to monetary benefits and immunity from prosecution. (Austin Bay)

August 1, 2018: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) there was yet another Ebola outbreak, only a week after the last one, 2,500 kilometers away, was declared over. This latest outbreak consists so far of four people infected. This is the 10th outbreak in Congo since the first one was encountered in 1976. Over 11,000 people died during the last major sub-Saharan Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014-2015. Most of the deaths were in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Since then medical personnel have been trained and equipped to quickly contain outbreaks before they can cause large numbers of deaths.

July 31, 2018: In the Central African Republic (CAR) three Russian journalists were murdered in an ambush 50 kilometers from the capital Bangui near the town of Sibut. The journalists were working on a documentary report about the Wagner Group, a Russian military contractor that has a “training and advisory” presence in the CAR.

July 30, 2018: Another thousand Ugandan soldiers deployed to Somalia. The contingent replaces the current Ugandan battle group serving with the AU (African Union) peacekeepers.

July 28, 2018: In the CAR former Seleka (Moslem) rebels have been stockpiling weapons which are believed to come from Sudan. The rebel weapon acquisition is likely a response to the recent deliveries of Russian light infantry weapons to the CAR security forces. Rebels have complained that the government is no longer seeking a political solution. Most Seleka rebels came from predominantly Muslim tribes in the north.

July 25, 2018: Congo announced that anyone who wants to run for president in the December election must submit their names by August 8. Meanwhile, president Kabila continues to discuss with members of his ruling political coalition, the Common Front for Congo (FCC), who would be the best Kabila coalition candidate in the December presidential election. Every coalition party, including Kabila’s own People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), will name four candidates.

July 24, 2018: In northwest Congo (Équateur province) the government announced that the latest Ebola virus outbreak is over. No new case has been reported in the last six weeks. The outbreak lasted ten weeks and killed 33 people.

July 19, 2018: President Kabila announced that his commitment to uphold the constitution of Congo is firm. However, he once again refused to rule out the possibility he might attempt to run for re-election in December.

July 17, 2018: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) ADF (Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces) rebels attacked an army base east of the town of Beni. Three soldiers were killed and three were wounded while two rebels died in the attack. The rebel force then stole cattle and looted a local medical facility (where three civilians, one of them a nurse, were killed).

July 15, 2018: President Kabila fired general Didier Etumba, the commander of the army and replaced him with lieutenant-general Celestin Mbala. Major general Gabriel Amisi will take charge of military operations and intelligence. Amisi is a close political ally of Kabila. In 2012 the UN accused Amisi of operating an arms smuggling network that had supplied numerous Congolese rebel groups. Kabila also made general John Numbi the army inspector-general. Numbi is another Kabila political ally. The political opposition claims Numbi had a major role in the 2011 murder of Congolese war crimes investigator Floribert Chebeya.

July 11, 2018: Congo accused Ugandan security forces of killing 12 Congolese fishermen in a July 6 incident on Lake Edward. This began when Ugandan security forces arrested 92 Congolese fishermen. Uganda reported that one of their soldiers died when his unit clashed with Congolese intruders. Congo and Uganda are continuing to discuss the incident.

July 9, 2018: Both Congo and Uganda confirm an armed incident occurred near Lake Edward on July 6. At least 12 Congolese and one Ugandan were killed. Congo alleged that a Ugandan Navy boat fired first. A Congolese security force was in the area. Oil has been discovered in the Lake Edward area and the border is disputed.

July 7, 2018: In eastern Congo (South Kivu province) ten people were burned to death in tribal clashes. Three ethnic groups were involved: the Banyindu, the Bafukiro and the Banyamulenge. The Banyamulenge are Congolese Tutsis. Police believe the Burundian Popular Forces of Burundi (FOREBU) rebel militia may have played a role in the violence.

July 4, 2018: The Congolese government vigorously disputed a UN report accusing soldiers of committing mass murder, rape and torture in the southwest Kasai region. In June investigators reported that soldiers had committed “systematic” violence against civilians in the Kasai region.

July 1, 2018: In Rwanda, unidentified gunmen attacked a village on the border with Burundi and robbed the villagers. The victims reported the gunmen attacked from Burundi. This is the second time in two weeks a Rwandan village on the Rwanda-Burundi border has suffered a gang raid.

 

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