Tag Archives: DR Congo

Dr Congo expels African pro-democracy activists

Reuters

Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:12pm GMT
KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered the immediate expulsion of a Burkinabe and three Senegalese pro-democracy activists detained at the weekend, the government said on Wednesday.

“The president of the republic has just ordered the cancellation of proceedings against the four Senegalese and Burkinabe citizens who were declared persona non grata in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” government spokesman Lambert Mende told journalists.

The group were among some 40 activists, musicians and journalists arrested in the capital on Sunday during a news conference that Mende has previously said was organised by “instructors in insurrection”.

DR Congo-Rwanda – Congolese forces drive Rwandan rebels from hills in N Kivu

Reuters

KIRUMBA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Congolese government forces ousted rebels from hills in heavy fighting in North Kivu province on Friday, an army spokesman said, cranking up a campaign to crush an insurgency at the heart of two decades of conflict.

The rebel ranks contain remnants of fighters involved in neighbouring Rwanda’s genocide in 1994. Since moving into chaotic eastern Congo, they have sought to exploit the region’s rich deposits of gold, diamonds and tin and waged periodic war with the Kinshasa government and other armed groups.

Around 100 soldiers backed by presidential guard troops fired machine guns from jeeps at positions of rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who responded with automatic weapons fire, a Reuters witness said.

By 1400 GMT, the army had secured most of the hills and rebels retreated deeper into the forest near Kirumba in Virunga National Park, an army spokesman said. The park abuts the border of Congo and Rwanda and is famous for its mountain gorillas.

There was no information on casualties in the fighting.

Millions died of conflict, hunger and disease during a war in the east between 1998 and 2003 and the region remains plagued by armed factions.

President Joseph Kabila formally launched the anti-rebel offensive on Jan. 29 but combat did not begin in earnest until Tuesday in neighbouring South Kivu province, where the army says it has captured several rebel strongholds.

The army began action on Wednesday to clear rebels from North Kivu where the bulk of the 1,400 fighters were believed to operate, army spokesman Leon Kasonga said.

“We have captured seven FDLR, among them a major …. They don’t resist on the ground because our dominance is established,” he said.

Analysts said the rebels would avoid large-scale battles that could risk defeat and instead retreat into remote hills and forests they know well after decades of fighting.

 

DR Congo army starts offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebels

BBC

DR Congo launches operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels

Democratic Republic of Congo regular army soldiers stand guard in the Nakabumbi area of Kimbumba, 20kms from Goma, near the border with Rwanda, on June 14, 201Eastern DR Congo has been plagued by violence for years

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has launched an attack against Rwandan Hutu rebels in the east of the country.

Ministers had previously pledged to target the FDLR militants after they failed to meet a deadline to disarm last month.

Hutu rebels were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

UN peacekeepers in DR Congo withdrew an offer to support the operation because two government generals are suspected of human rights abuses.

Tuesday’s attack took place in the eastern South Kivu province, about 10km (six miles) from the border with Burundi, the military said.

Speaking as army chiefs launched their assault, the outgoing US special envoy to the region said the government “owes it to its people” to end the threat posed by Rwandan Hutu rebels, reported the AFP news agency.

Russ Feingold said extinguishing the threat was an “international responsibility”, according to the agency.

The presence of hundreds of Hutu rebels in eastern DR Congo has been a source of instability for the country.

Many of the rebels were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people – mainly from the Tutsi minority – were killed.

A Tutsi-led government subsequently took power in Rwanda, while Hutu rebel leaders fled across the border into DR Congo.

Their presence has been used by the Rwandan government as a reason for military interventions against its neighbour.

Dr Congo – Senate drops election law proposals after popular protests

Reuters

Congo Senate bows to protests, drops reforms seen delaying vote

Photo
4:47pm GMT

By Aaron Ross

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s Senate on Friday scrapped a proposed change to the election law after four days of deadly protests against the proposal that the opposition said was aimed at keeping President Joseph Kabila in power.

Opposition supporters shouted “Victory! Victory!” on the streets of the capital Kinshasa after the decision was broadcast — but some of their leaders said they were ready to keep up the political pressure with more rallies.

Western powers this week urged the Senate to drop part of a draft election law that would have required a census to be completed before presidential elections, expected in 2016.

Activists argued that the census would have taken years to organise in an impoverished country the size of Western Europe, allowing Kabila to stay in office.

Kabila, who won a second five-year mandate in disputed elections in 2011, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. With several long-standing African leaders facing looming term limits, the process is being closely watched across the continent.

Congo’s powerful Catholic Church kept up the pressure on the government by condemning a crackdown on the protests which rights groups said killed more than 40 people.

The Senate agreed to modify the proposed law, which had already been passed by the lower house in its original form, to say that any revision of the electoral list must respect the constitutional deadline for elections.

“We have listened to the street. That is why the vote today is a historic vote,” Senate President Leon Kengo Wa Dondo said after the altered election bill was passed unanimously.

A parliamentary committee will now seek to reconcile the two chambers’ bills before a possible final vote in the lower house – the National Assembly – expected before the close of the current parliamentary session on Monday.

Some in the opposition said they were wary of declaring victory before the final version of the bill was drafted.

“Kengo just used a political calculus to calm down the situation,” said a youth protest leader, who asked not be named, calling the Senate vote a “trap”.

He added that students, who have played a leading role in the week’s protests, would meet later on Friday to decide what to do next.

Pascal Kambale, former Congo country director for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, said the Senate vote represented a major defeat for Kabila and predicted that the lower house would now accept the core of the Senate bill.

But Aubin Minaku — president of the National Assembly and a close political ally of Kabila — remained defiant.

“There will be no Burkina Faso in Kinshasa. Stop dreaming,” he wrote on Twitter in reference to a popular uprising that ousted Burkina’s President Blaise Compaore in October after he attempted to override term limits to seek another term.

Dr Congo – Catholic Church backs anti-Kabila protests

BBC

The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has thrown its weight behind protests against President Joseph Kabila extending his rule.

It called on people to peacefully oppose his move to delay presidential elections until a census is held.

At least 11 people have so far been been killed in the protests.

It is the worst unrest in the capital, Kinshasa, since the riots which broke out after Mr Kabila won a second term in disputed elections in 2011.

Mr Kabila, who first took power in 2001 following the assassination of his father Laurent, is constitutionally barred from running for another term in elections due next year.

Burnt car in Kinshasa (21 January 2015)The opposition accuses the government of trying to stage a “constitutional coup”

‘Dormitories ablaze’

The opposition says government plans for a census are a ploy to delay the poll so that he can hang on to power.

The government admits the election could be delayed, but says the census is vital to ensure polls are free and fair.

Protester in Kinshasa on 21 January 2015Protesters are adamant that the elections should be held next year

The Catholic Church, the largest in DR Congo, has shut its schools as violent protests continued in Kinshasa for a third day.

The BBC’s Maud Julien reports from the city that security forces and protesters clashed again at the government-run University of Kinshasa, the focal point of protests.

Demonstrators told her that security forces fired live ammunition, killing four of them. There is no independent confirmation of this.

During a visit to the campus, she saw many buildings gutted by fire, including dormitories for female students.

Windows had been shattered, and the impact of bullets was clearly visible.

Radio France International, the main foreign broadcaster in DR Congo, has been pulled off air, our reporter says.

Looting

On Tuesday, internet connections and text messaging services were blocked, apparently on the orders of the government.

Many shops had been looted and set ablaze as the protests turned violent, our correspondent says.

Catholic Church head Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya said “certain political men, with the security forces” were in “desolation” and causing insecurity in DR Congo.

“Stop killing your people,” he said in a statement.

Demonstrators burn tyres to set up barricades during a protest in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa on 20 January 2015The government says it will not tolerate violence
Burnt vehicle in Kinshasa (21 January 2015) The unrest has caused extensive damage
Police detain a protester in Goma, DR Congo, on 19 January 2015The clashes are the some of the worst seen in Kinshasa since Mr Kabila was re-elected in 2011

The cardinal called on the public to challenge by all “legal and peaceful means any attempt to change laws that are essential to the electoral process”.

‘Constitutional coup’

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the 11 who died in Monday’s and Tuesday’s clashes included a policeman shot by a sniper and 10 civilians killed by security guards while attempting to loot private properties.

He said 22 people had been wounded, most of them policemen.

Opposition leader Vital Kamerhe disputed the government’s figures, saying 28 protesters had been killed – eight on Tuesday and 20 on Monday.

Protesters in Kinshasa on 21 January 2015Kinshasa is seen as an opposition stronghold
A man walks past a tyre set alight during a nation-wide protest as opposition parties tried to block a change in the law that may delay elections, in Goma eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (19 January 2015)Many shops were looted as the protest turned violent
Democratic Republic of Congo protesters block a street in Kinshasa, on 19 January 2015 The protesters have vowed to force Mr Kabila to step down

The protests coincided with a debate in the Senate, the upper parliamentary chamber, over government plans to hold a census before elections.

Most senators, including members of the governing party, said they were opposed to the plan because it risked destabilising the country.

The lower chamber, the House of Representatives, approved the plan on Saturday, in a vote boycotted by opposition MPs.

The opposition says this amounts to a “constitutional coup” by Mr Kabila, as it will take about three years for a census to be conducted in DR Congo, which is two-thirds of the size of western Europe, has very little infrastructure and is hit by instability in the east.

DR Congo, formerly known as Zaire, has never had a reliable census since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Rwanda rebels – UN head calls for action by DR Congo against FDLR

UN News Service

In phone call with DR Congo President, Ban urges ‘decisive action’ against armed group

UN peacekeepers patrol Camp Lieutenant General Jean-Lucien Bahuma in Kisangani, Oriental Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is hosting former FDLR combatants. Photo: MONUSCO/Abel Kavanagh

7 January 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a phone call with Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President, Joseph Kabila, today appealed for decisive action against the armed group FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), after it failed to surrender on deadline.

Mr. Ban reiterated that the FDLR has “failed to deliver on its promise to disarm and that the deadline of 2 January had expired without significant results”, according to a read-out of the phone call provided by his spokesperson during the daily press briefing at UN Headquarters this afternoon.

The Secretary-General welcomed President Kabila’s assurance that his Government is ready to take action and noted that the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) is ready to engage in operations alongside the Congolese military, also known by the French acronym FARDC.

Echoing that sentiment, UN Force Commander of MONUSCO, Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz today in an interview with UN Radio said that as FDLR had failed to meet its deadline to surrender voluntarily, action to force disarmament may be imminent.

“As you know, 2 January was [the deadline] for the FDLR to surrender voluntarily. Unfortunately, they didn’t meet expectations. One option is to…defeat the FDLR and to force the surrender of this group,” General dos Santos Cruz said over the phone from DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.

“It is very important for FDLR to stop its activities in the eastern part of Congo to bring stability to the region. We don’t have only FDLR as an armed group but they are very important politically and their surrender is important to stability here,” General dos Santos Cruz added.

He explained that MONUSCO and the Congolese army have joined forces to follow-up on the progress of disarming the group. An upcoming 15 January meeting with several regional organizations is expected to focus on the matter and decide what action to take.

In the meantime, General dos Santos Cruz said that the leaders of the 2,000-strong FDLR take action toward surrendering based on international negotiations.

“They need to surrender to bring more stability to the eastern part of Congo and to the whole region. If they don’t comply with that, we are ready to follow up with the political authorities and we are going start operations against them,” the General warned.

DR Congo – gunmen free hundreds of prisoners in North Kivu

Reuters

(Reuters) – Heavily armed gunmen freed some 300 inmates from a prison in eastern Congo on Saturday, the provincial minister of justice said, amid fears over deteriorating security in the mineral-rich region.

Christophe Ndibeche said the attackers easily overpowered the security guards, freeing all the prisoners from the central prison of Butembo, a town in North Kivu province.

By Sunday evening, authorities had recaptured about 30 of the fugitives, he added.

“These are enemies of peace who committed this attack to liberate the bandits in the prison. We are going to do everything to find them,” Ndibeche said.

The assault comes at a time of growing alarm in North Kivu, a mineral-rich province bordering Rwanda and Uganda that has long been plagued by dozens of armed militias.

Last week, suspected rebels from the Ugandan ADF-NALU group carried out two overnight raids near the town of Beni, 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo, killing more than 50 people.

Ndibeche said that highway bandits were the most likely culprits in the prison break given that group’s strong representation among the prison population.

Reuters