Congo’s government says it will not accept logistical help from the UN in the December national elections. The government had previously indicated it would not accept “external” (foreign) financial assistance to hold the election. That noted the UN Security Council has authorized the UN peacekeepers in Congo to spend about $85 million to assist Congo in the presidential election. Congo’s election commission has estimated the election will cost $420 million. Several donor nations, among them the U.S., have said Congo needs UN help on several fronts, including communications gear as well as vehicles and aircraft. “Logistical support for elections” is part of the UN peacekeepers’ mandate. Kabila has also rejected aid from South Africa. The government’s rejection of aid has increased opposition party worries that current president Joseph Kabila intends to undermine the election. Catholic Church leaders in Congo have insisted that international monitors must be present at the polls in order to ensure a fair election. (Austin Bay)
September 1, 2018: Relations between Uganda and Rwanda continue to deteriorate. Uganda claims Rwanda has established “espionage networks” in Uganda. The Ugandan operatives control bars and dance halls and are also influential in the taxi industry. Rwanda accused Uganda of letting the RNC (Rwanda National Congress) rebels recruit in Uganda.
August 30, 2018: Former Congolese rebel militia commander Bosco Ntaganda told the International Criminal Court “I am a revolutionary but I am not a criminal.” Ntaganda faces charges of murder, rape, pillage and employing child soldiers in fighting that took place from 2002-2003 in northeastern Congo’s Ituri region. There he commanded the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo militia.
A Ugandan court has confirmed a former Lords Resistance Army commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, will face 93 serious charges in an upcoming trial. Charges include rape, murder, torture, enslavement, torture, kidnapping. Kwoyelo is also charged with leading attacks on refugee camps where they looted, burned and killed. His worst crimes occurred in the years of 1987, 1993, 1996 and 2003.
August 28, 2018: The Kabila government of Congo is accused of violently suppressing a peaceful opposition rally in Kinshasa that took place on August 7. The witnesses claim the demonstrators were peaceful while the government claimed they were throwing rocks.
August 27, 2018: The trial of 24 people accused of being involved in the March 2017 murder of two UN workers monitoring conditions in the Kasai region has resumed after a ten-month suspension. The two victims were investigating possible crimes committed by the army while fighting Kamuina Nsapu rebels.
August 25, 2018: The Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) is confronting a yellow fever epidemic along its border with Angola’s Cabinda enclave. Health authorities report only a handful of confirmed cases but over 180 suspected cases. The country is organizing a nation-wide vaccination program.
August 24, 2018: Congo’s election commission has refused to accept the candidacy of opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba. Earlier this year an appeals court acquitted Bemba’s ICC conviction for war crimes. He returned to Congo in August and announced he wanted to run for president.
August 23, 2018: In CAR (Central African Republic) gunmen killed a Burundian soldier serving with UN peacekeepers near the town of Pavika.
August 21, 2018: CAR and Russia have signed a military cooperation agreement. Russia described the agreement as a “framework” for improving defense ties. CAR officers will be allowed to attend Russian military institutes. Russia has a training cadre in the CAR, comprised of military and civilian contractors. Some of the Russian civilians are believed to be mercenaries working for the Russian Wagner mercenary organization.
August 17, 2018: Congo’s “eastern Ebola epidemic” is claiming more lives. In North Kivu province least 45 people have died and another 80 are infected. Health workers report that lack of security in the province impedes their ability to reach remote areas to provide aid.
August 16, 2018: The Congolese government has issued an international arrest warrant for opposition political leader Moise Katumbi, who is the most popular opposition candidate for president.
August 15, 2018: The government of Zambia said that it is preparing for a refugee surge from Congo during and after the December Congolese national election. Zambia apparently believes rebel militias and possibly pro-Kabila forces will attempt to disrupt the elections.
August 13, 2018: In CAR UN peacekeepers report that fragmentation of rebel groups has become a security problem. For example, several armed factions have formed from the Seleka rebels. These factions continue to fight with anti-balaka militia factions. The FPRC (Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa) has emerged as one of the more powerful rogue Seleka factions. However, the FPRC itself has produced another rogue faction; the MPC (Patriotic Movement for Central Africa) that is also an FPRC rival. Seleka’s breakup is a bit ironic. In the Sangho language (the CAR’s official language, also called Sango), Seleka means “alliance.” The big alliance has dissolved. The new factions appear to be organized along religious, ethnic and regional lines. The Seleka movement was a predominantly Muslim movement but drew on tribes in the east and north. (Austin Bay)
August 11, 2018: After declaring an end to the Ebola virus epidemic in western Congo, new Ebola cases have appeared in eastern Congo. Authorities believe the virus has killed at least 21 people in North Kivu province. The national health ministry has begun deploying personnel and medicine to combat the epidemic and determine how many people have been infected.
In eastern Congo (Maniema Province) Mai Mai Malaika rebels attacked a convoy of trucks from the local Namoya gold mine. Two people were killed, four (two soldiers and two drivers) were kidnapped. The attack took place in a jungle area about 35 kilometers from the mine. The Congolese Army has begun searching for the kidnap victims.
August 10, 2018: In eastern Congo (North Kivu Province) Ugandan ADF Islamic rebels attacked the town of Mayi-Moya and killed six civilians and wounded another. The attackers slipped past an army checkpoint near the town. There was no report of pillaging. This indicates the attack was intended to terrorize civilians.
The tiny Caucasus state of Georgia sent another platoon of peacekeepers to the CAR to replace the one already there. These platoons serves with the EU security force in the CAR for six month-long tours and is usually replaced by another platoon from home.
August 9, 2018: Congo’s ruling political coalition, The Common Front for Congo, confirmed it has selected Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as its candidate. The CFC is president Joseph Kabila’s political party, which means Shadary is his handpicked successor. Shadary is regarded as a Kabila loyalist and at one time served as interior minister. Several EU nations have sanctioned him for his role in security force and pro-Kabila militants attacks on anti-Kabila protestors in 2017. Interestingly enough, Congo’s Catholic Church leaders indicated the decision was positive because it meant Kabila would not personally attempt to remain in office. Yesterday Kabila announced he would not run in December. Kabila’s announcement followed reports that the U.S. was about to impose political and financial sanctions on at least one pro-Kabila senior security officer. France and Britain are also pressuring Kabila.
August 8, 2018: The Rwandan Army has arrested the former head of the National Intelligence and Security Services, lieutenant general Karenzi Karake. Official charges have not been filed. However, the arrest is reportedly related to Rwanda’s deteriorating political relationship with Uganda. Rwanda accuses Uganda of supporting anti-Rwandan rebels who seek to destabilize the Rwandan government. Uganda has arrested several Rwandans living in Uganda on charges of illegal entry and deported them to Rwanda. Uganda has also claimed Rwandan is conducting spy operations in Uganda.
August 7, 2018: Security forces in Kinshasa fired teargas at demonstrators identified as supporters of opposition politician Felix Tshisekedi. Security officials claimed the protestors were throwing rocks. Tshisekedi leads the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and is the son of late opposition icon Etienne Tshisekedi.
August 6, 2018: In Burundi, three soldiers were killed and five wounded when unidentified gunmen ambushed their truck on a road outside the capital and near the Congo border. Extremist Hutu guerrillas in the FLN (National Forces of Liberation) are known to operate in the area.