Congo: How We Got From Then To Now



Congo And Central Africa

January 18, 2023: In Congo, over two decades of peacekeeping seems to be finally working. Since the Great Congo War erupted in the mid-1990s, eastern Congo has been the scene of persistent violence and most of the war-related fatalities. In impoverished, corrupt Congo, all too often anarchic violence quickly expands into persistent violence where unprotected civilians are uprooted or robbed, sometimes raped, often killed. If the violence persists, relief agencies evacuate their personnel. In these terrible circumstances, Congolese civilians, aid groups and other NGOs (non-government organizations) have legitimate cause to demand protection. In eastern Congo the best available armed defense was provided by UN peacekeepers.

UN peacekeepers first deployed to Congo in 1960 when Belgium left and southern Congo (Katanga province) separatists rebelled. That rebellion quickly ended and has not returned. The current UN deployment was authorized in 2000. In 2001 the UN Congo peacekeeping forces consisted of about 3,000 troops. Year by year the troop commitment increased. In 2005 there were around 15,000 uniformed personnel (soldiers, observers and police). Since 2010 the UN has kept at least 20,000 uniformed personnel in Congo, the number occasionally approaching 22,000. In November 2014, the UN had 19,461 soldiers in Congo, 481 military observers and 1,091 uniformed police. Add another 4,000 UN civilians and volunteers. Cost estimates vary. For Congo peacekeeping and stabilization operations mid-2014 to mid-2015 the UN has budgeted $1.4 billion. From 2001 to 2014, Congo peacekeeping operations cost the UN members nearly $10 billion. That is a major, sustained effort over an extended period of time.

The cause of all this Congo-based fighting was an ethnic war in neighboring Rwanda that was triggered by the majority Hutu sought to end rule by the minority Tutsi by killing all the Tutsi. This was a sudden, somewhat unplanned and unexpected effort and over half a million Tutsis were killed before the Tutsis got organized and counterattacked. Over 250,000 Hutu, including thousands of the most radical Hutus fled to neighboring eastern Congo. These Hutu were soon pursued by Tutsi soldiers seeking to kill or capture the known Hutu leaders. The Rwandan forces left after killing lots of Hutu and many Congolese. The Tutsi militias were still there and the violence in eastern Congo played a key role in ousting dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who ran the Congolese government from 1965 to 1997. The Congo War of 1996-1997 led to the collapse of Mobutu’s government.

The subsequent Great Congo War (1998-2003) was a period of nationwide anarchy, especially in the east and to a lesser extent the sough (Katanga again). All this brought back the UN peacekeepers in 2000. By 2003 the peacekeepers had done their job in most of the country, except the east, along the Rwandan border. Fighting there continues to the present. So does the lethal violence between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda and eastern Congo. Uganda, another Congolese neighbor that shared a border with eastern Congo, eventually got involved and Ugandan rebel militias are still active in eastern Congo. While Congo and Uganda cooperate in dealing with this problem, Congo and Rwanda do not. Two decades of peacekeeping (some of it quite violent) and peacemaking have calmed but not eliminated the violence in eastern Congo.

January 17, 2023: Congo accuses M23 rebels of not complying with their agreement to conduct an "orderly withdrawal" from eastern Congo. M23 also failed to cooperate with the East African peacekeepers operating in the area

January 15, 2023: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) an unidentified group detonated a bomb in a Christian church not far from the Uganda-Congo border, The bomb killed 16 people and wounded over 30. The culprit turned out to be the Ugandan Islamic terrorist ADF (Allied Democratic Forces). In late 2019 the ADF claimed to be affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIL). While a lot of Ugandans are Moslem, 90 percent of Congolese are Christian.

January 14, 2023: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) CODECO militiamen have been on a rampage that began January 8. So far least 40 people have died. CODECO claims its attacks are reprisals for the death of a Lendu teacher. CODECO blamed Zaire militiamen. CODECO and the Zaire militia have been fighting over control of a gold mine in the area. CODECO is a Lendu tribal militia. The Zaire militia is associated with the Hema tribe. It is very likely most of CODECO’s recent victims are from the Hema tribe.

January 13, 2023: Rwanda and Turkey signed three more cooperation agreements. The two nations now have 24 cooperation agreements, including cultural issues, science, technology and education.

January 12, 2023: Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said that M23 rebels have told him they will continue to conduct an "orderly withdrawal" from eastern Congo. M23 will also cooperate with the East African peacekeepers operating in the area. Kenyatta has been acting as a mediator between Congo and M23.

The Congolese military strongly denies claims that the Russian Wagner Group mercenaries are operating inside Congo. The denials follow a claim made by M23 that last week it fought a battle with soldiers supported by what they believed were Russian mercenaries. Wagner does operate in the Central African Republic (CAR), is the northern neighbor of Congo, sharing a 487-kilometer border that is largely peaceful.

January 11, 2023: Uganda announced its latest Ebola virus epidemic has ended. The country has gone 42 days without a new case. The outbreak began in September 2022 and appears to have infected 143 people, killing 55 of them.

January 10, 2023: At the UN the U.S. accused Russian mercenaries (military contractors) of interfering in the internal affairs of African countries and robbing them of resources, committing atrocities and endangering UN personnel. The UN was in session to focus on West Africa and the Sahel region. Wagner is active in several African nations but is particularly active in the CAR where the Russians have taken over some illegal mining operations and making a lot of money at that. .

January 9, 2023: President Kagame of Rwanda threatened to force several thousand Congolese refugees out of Rwanda. He may let them stay if the international community stops blaming Rwanda for the warfare in eastern Congo. Congo accused Rwanda of using refugee issues for political purposes.

January 8, 2023: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) CODECO rebels launched a series of attacks. At least three villages were attacked. At the same time representatives of CODECO attended recent peace talks in Kenya with several dozen armed groups operating in eastern Congo. Zaire militia members declined an invitation to participate. CODECO is a Lendu tribal militia while the Zaire militia is largely from the Hema tribe

January 7, 2023: Sudan has reinforced its border with the CAR and announced it is closing the border in order to secure it. The announcement comes after a report that soldiers wearing Sudanese Rapid Support Forces uniforms entered the CAR intending to help overthrow the CAR government.

January 6, 2023: The United States claimed there was clear evidence that Rwanda supported the M23 rebel group and should end that support. The Congolese army was also criticized for collaborating with illicit armed organizations such as the FDLR.

January 5, 2023: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) UN personnel report that M23 rebels have not withdrawn from areas they agreed to abandon near the city of Goma.

January 4, 2023: In Congo, the UN appointed a Brazilian general as the new commander of the UN peacekeeping force and he will take command in March.

January 2, 2023: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a joint force of Congolese and Ugandan soldiers has, since mid-November rescued an estimated 100 civilians who were abducted by ADF rebels.

January 1, 2023: The EU urged Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 rebel group and pressure M23 to comply with the East African Community’s (EAC) November 2022 ceasefire and peace program.

December 30, 2022: In northern Uganda (West Nile Region) Ugandan security forces arrested a senior CODECO rebel commander. Uganda regards CODECO as an enemy. In 2021 a CODECO force attacked a Ugandan Army outpost in the same part of Uganda.

December 29, 2022: In western Congo (Kinshasa Province) Rwanda denied accusations by a Congolese official that two Rwandans arrested in Kinshasa five days ago were part of a group of Rwandans plotting to shoot down a plane carrying Congo’s president. Rwanda said the accusation was made to inflame Congolese public opinion against Rwanda.

December 28, 2022: Rwanda claimed a Congolese fighter jet violated its airspace. There have been at least two other alleged violations in the last month.

South Sudan confirmed it will send a battalion (750 soldiers) to eastern Congo to serve with the peacekeepers.

December 27, 2022: Angola’s Supreme Court ordered the preventive seizure of suspected stolen assets held by Isabel dos Santos. She is the daughter of former president Eduardo dos Santos. A court filing alleges that dos Santos has “damaged” the Angolan state to the tune of over a billion dollars. Isabel dos Santos is a major owner of companies operating mobile communication businesses in several former Portuguese colonies, including Mozambique and Cape Verde.

In eastern Congo (Ituri province) a military court convicted eight soldiers (two of them colonels and a civilian for organizing a March 2022 attack on a convoy carrying Chinese workers, gold bars and over $6,000 in cash the Chinese had with them. The accused were sentenced to death.

December 26, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) one faction of M23 rebels violated a recent a peace deal between peacekeepers and M23 and kidnapped at least 50 civilians. M23 suspects the civilians collaborated with Nyatura and FDLR rebels feuding with M23. FDLR began as a radical Rwandan Hutu ethnic militia whose leaders played key roles in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of ethnic Tutsis.

December 23, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) M23 rebels announced they will retreat from their position threatening the city of Goma. M23 will turn over its position to the peacekeeping force as a “goodwill gesture.”

December 22, 2022: A group of UN investigators have concluded that the Rwandan Army "engaged in military operations" against Congo's military forces in eastern Congo. The report referred to “substantial evidence of” direct Rwandan Army intervention to support rebels in eastern Congo.

Zambia announced its security forces arrested four former Defense Ministry officials. Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission had accused the men of participating in a corruption scandal that involves Elbit Systems, an Israeli arms manufacturer. The deal revolved around a $574 million procurement contract that included the purchase of a Gulfstream G650 Presidential Jet. Elbit supplied an anti-missile defense system. The plane cost $195 million “with accessories,” but investigators called the figure exorbitant. The complaint alleged the anti-missile system was overpriced by $45 million.

December 17, 2022: In Congo local politician, businessman and football (soccer) club owner Katumbi, Congolese politician, announced he will for president in the 2023 election.

December 16, 2022: France confirmed that its forces have left CAR. The last unit to leave (a logistical support unit) departed on December 15.

December 14, 2022: In eastern Congo several anti-M23 militias have been showing up. These include APCLS (Patriotic Alliance for a Free and Independent Congo) when is essentially an ethnic Hunde tribal militia. M23 is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi rebel group. Congo accuses the Rwandan government of backing M23. The Rwandan government is predominantly Tutsi.

December 11, 2022: The World Health Organization certified that Congo has eradicated transmission of the parasite that causes Guinea-worm disease (dracunculiasis). This is a major achievement.

December 10, 2022:

December 9, 2022: Peacekeepers warn that the security situation in eastern Congo continues to deteriorate. The warning basically blamed M23.

December 8, 2022: Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group has begun recruiting fighters from prisons in the CAR. Apparently the Wagner mercs have a term for the new recruits: Black Russians.




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