Tag Archives: DRC violence

DR Congo – Christian sect members attack prison and free leader


By Aaron Ross | KINSHASA

KINSHASA Supporters of a jailed Christian sect leader attacked the prison holding him in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, freeing him and about 50 other inmates early on Wednesday, the government said.

Ne Muanda Nsemi – a self-styled prophet and leader of the Bundu dia Kongo movement – was arrested in March after a series of deadly clashes between his supporters and police, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

Witnesses said they had heard gunfire near Makala prison at around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) and saw prisoners wearing blue shirts with yellow collars in the streets.

The United Nations warned its staff to avoid unessential movement around Kinshasa, saying the situation was calm but unpredictable.

Soldiers stopped young men for questioning near Nsemi’s house in the city’s district of Ngaliema and arresting some of them, a Reuters witness said.

Justice minister Alexis Thambwe told a local radio station that, aside from Nsemi, the prison’s most prominent prisoners, including political opposition leaders and soldiers convicted in the assassination of former president Laurent Kabila, had not escaped.

The president of Bundu dia Kongo’s political wing could not be immediately reached for comment.

Nsemi has a strong following in southwestern Congo and wants to revive the Kongo kingdom, which flourished for centuries around the mouth of the Congo River.

Clashes between his followers and security forces have compounded wider tensions across Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired in December, raising fears of renewed civil conflict.

At least six of Nsemi’s supporters were killed earlier this year during the two-week standoff at his Kinshasa residence that led to his capture.

(Reporting By Aaron Ross; Additional reporting by Benoit Nyemba; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


DR Congo – new divisions further threaten stability

Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane)

As the opposition unravels, the ruling alliance is using these rifts to keep Kabila in office.
19 Apr 2017 <!––>  /  by Stephanie Wolters

Two political accords and three prime ministers later, and four months after Congolese President Joseph Kabila was due to leave office at the end of his second mandate, credible elections and political stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) appear more elusive than ever.

The 31 December political accord, brokered in good faith by the Catholic Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO), remains the only viable blueprint for political stability in the DRC. It calls for elections by the end of 2017, no third mandate for Kabila and the formation of a new government, led by a prime minister issued from the ranks of the Rassemblement de l’opposition (Rassop), the country’s largest political opposition alliance – led until his death on 1 February by Etienne Tshisekedi.

The 31 December political accords were based on the principles of consensus, inclusivity and transparency; the government that would emerge would draw its legitimacy from these principles, and the credibility of the elections it would organise would be based upon them.

But getting the disparate parties to implement the 31 December accord, in letter and in spirit, was always going to be difficult, mainly because it involved concrete concessions from the ruling presidential alliance, the Majorité Présidentielle (MP), which has been the architect of the glissage – or delaying strategy that has allowed Kabila to remain in office past December 2016.

On the other side of the political divide, Tshisekedi’s credibility and popularity kept the Rassop’s many components united and on board with the 31 December agreement. The political opposition also knew it had common cause with the international community, which wants elections to take place as soon as possible.

Most importantly though, sustained political pressure from the population, which has repeatedly manifested its desire to see Kabila go, has been a significant factor driving both the opposition and the international community to maintain pressure on Kabila and his elite.

However, Tshisekedi’s death – and the subsequent leadership squabbles this has provoked in both his party, the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS), and the Rassop alliance – have given rise to political opportunism. UDPS veterans unhappy with the anointment of Tshisekedi’s son Felix have balked at his nomination to head the alliance and the party. Several have jumped ship or been excluded and have formed ‘new’ parties – not because they think these parties are viable political entities that can win elections, but to position themselves as the preferred opposition partner for a ruling elite looking for viable puppets.

CENCO attempted for some weeks to lock down the details of the accord, but it threw in the towel on 21 March on the grounds that it could not get the parties to agree. It rebuked the Congolese political class, whom it accused of lacking goodwill and of pursuing its own selfish interests at the expense of the interests of the country and the Congolese population.

The MP has lapped this up – and in some instances, actively encouraged these splits. Picking up where CENCO left off, Kabila held talks with numerous political players in early April, including dissident members of the UDPS and the Rassop.

And as expected, on 7 April, Kabila nominated one such dissident to the post of prime minister. As a founding member of the UDPS and former close associate of Tshisekedi’s, the new prime minister doesn’t lack opposition credentials. Even so, in designating Bruno Tshibala, Kabila chose someone he can argue is not from his political camp and whose nomination follows the letter of the 31 December accord, all the while knowing that he has full control over the new government chief.

Tshibala’s nomination has done nothing to soothe tension in the country. Mass protests called by the Rassop in the days after the nomination were scuppered when authorities’ refused to grant permission for the marches, but morphed into a widely followed one-day stay-away.

Several key countries have also expressed concern about Tshibala’s nomination and have emphasised that the 31 December accord remains the only blueprint for the period leading up to elections. The European Union was sharply criticised by the foreign minister for this stance, and the international community was warned not to interfere in domestic matters.

Into this political morass wades MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. MONUSCO has long had a difficult relationship with Kabila, who has openly criticised the mission for staying beyond its initial mandate to establish peace and oversee the country’s post-conflict elections in 2006. The recently adopted UN Security Council resolution 2348 focuses MONUSCO’s mandate specifically on implementing the 31 December accord, and Maman Sidikou, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, has started meeting with the various parties.

The African Union (AU), which brokered the October 2016 political accord that was rejected by the political opposition, has taken a backseat, although in late March the Peace and Security Council did express concern about delays in implementing the 31 December accord. Given AU member states’ history of solidarity with the incumbent, it may be a long shot to expect tough measures from the continental body. Still, the AU is under new leadership, and if it fails to tackle the growing crisis in the DRC, its standing as a significant actor on continental peace and security issues will be further diluted.

Kabila acquiesced to a new round of talks last year, following pressure from Angola. Whether Angola will weigh in again is unclear.

Kabila and his elite have over the past six months been able to cobble together a semblance of cooperation and compliance, and have avoided looking like the only spoiler in the room. From their perspective, there is no good reason to submit to another round of talks which could involve additional painful concessions.

Despite this, pressure from the international community, the AU and regional bodies like the Southern Africa Development Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to abide by the 31 December accord must be maintained if the DRC is not to slide into full-scale political chaos.

Stephanie Wolters, Head, Peace and Security Research Programme, ISS

DR Congo – mass graves in central Congo show level of violence


By Aaron Ross | TSHIMBULU, Democratic Republic of Congo

TSHIMBULU, Democratic Republic of Congo The increasingly brutal nature of fighting in central Congo between the army and local militia is on vivid display in the village of Tshienke, where the bodies of rebel fighters last month were dumped into a mass grave following intense clashes.

A visit to this site this month was the first time that journalists including Reuters have been able to see the toll that the Congolese military has exacted on fighters of the Kamuina Nsapu militia, whose insurgency poses the most serious threat to the rule of President Joseph Kabila.

Reuters was unable to determine the exact number of bodies in eight mass graves dug in January and February in Congo’s Kasai-Central province. The graves were also confirmed by nine local witnesses.

The United Nations said it suspects that Congolese forces killed 84 militia members close to the town of Tshimbulu between Feb. 9-13.

The government denies its soldiers used disproportionate force and says they have recovered automatic weapons from militia fighters after clashes.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters that the bodies in the mass graves were those of Kamuina Nsapu fighters and it was the group who had buried them, not the army.

“I don’t see why the soldiers would hide the fact, that after clashing with the terrorists, the terrorists died,” he said, adding that the army killed militia fighters in the clashes.

Leaders of Kamuina Nsapu could not be reached for comment.


At one grave site at Tshimbulu, a human femur poked out of the dirt and shards of bone dotted the perimeter.

“We saw arms and legs. There were … people who were entirely exposed because they hadn’t been buried well,” said one man who found the mass grave last month with fellow farmers.

He, like about a dozen witnesses Reuters interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the army.

Two km (1 mile) away in Tshienke, another farmer pointed out two more mass graves she said contained bodies dumped by an army truck between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the night of Feb. 12, following intense clashes on Feb. 9 and 10.

A red headband of the kind worn by members of the Kamuina Nsapu militia was wedged in the grass near the graves.

In a statement to Reuters, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo said it informed the government earlier this month of three alleged mass grave sites in Tshimbulu and, in December, of seven more in the village of Nkoto, about 150 km (90 miles) northwest. The government says the graves were dug by the militia.

Kabila’s decision not to step down when his presidential mandate expired in December was followed by a wave of killings and lawlessness across the vast central African nation.

Kabila has said he is committed to respecting the constitution but an election to choose his successor cannot take place until a lengthy voter registration process is completed.

However, the rebellion that began in Kasai-Central has spread to five of Congo’s 26 provinces and resulted in hundreds of deaths.


Kabila’s opponents have used violence to exploit the uncertainty caused by his decision to stay on. Last August, a local chief known as Kamuina Nsapu after his native village, was killed in a clash with soldiers.

He had rejected the authority of the central government in Kasai-Central and demanded that government forces leave. Since then, Kamuina Nsapu militants do not appear to have a leader and some of the latest violence appears to be ethnic score-settling.

But they have also demanded that the government move to implement a deal signed on Dec. 31 requiring Kabila to step down after an election this year.

“It has taken on a political dimension because the aim is now to see Kabila no longer at the head of the country,” said Alphonse Mukendi, a human rights activist in the provincial capital Kananga.

Kamuina Nsapu’s tactics have alienated many, according to local residents, who say it uses child soldiers, some as young as 10.

It has attacked schools and churches, institutions it sees as oppressive, and executed police officers, soldiers and rival chiefs.

Mende, the government spokesman, said Congolese forces also suffered casualties at the hands of this group, including about 30 police officers killed last August.

But in battles with the military, the militia has faced machine gun fire while its fighters are armed with machetes, batons and home-made rifles.

After a video appearing to show soldiers massacring militia members was posted on social media, the United Nations called on Congo’s government to end “human rights violations, including apparent summary executions, by the … armed forces”.

The military’s top prosecutor, Major General Joseph Ponde, announced on Saturday that seven soldiers had been charged in connection with the video, including for the war crimes of murder and mutilation. [nL5N1GV0A9]

Ponde also said investigators plan to exhume two graves discovered near where the video was shot in neighbouring Kasai-Oriental province.

(Editing by Tim Cocks and Giles Elgood)

South Africa expresses concern over violence in DR Congo


2016-12-20 22:46

Joseph Kabila. (File: AFP)

Joseph Kabila. (File: AFP)

Johannesburg – The South African government has expressed concern over the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said on Tuesday.

This after Congolese living in South Africa protested outside the embassy in Pretoria against President Joseph Kabila. Kabila looks set to stay on despite the expiry of his mandate.

“These incidences threaten the hard-won democratic gains made by the DRC through the past two elections,” spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement referring to Kabila.

Protesters had earlier pelted the embassy with stones and with any other object they could find.

The were shouting: Kabila must go.

French news agency Agence France-Presse reported that Congolese opposition head Etienne Tshisekedi called on citizens to “no longer recognise” Joseph Kabila as president in a video released on YouTube.

“I am launching a solemn appeal to the Congolese people to no longer recognise the authority of Mr Joseph Kabila, to the international community to no longer deal with Joseph Kabila in the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” 84-year-old Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the country’s mainstream opposition party said.

A court has said Kabila can remain in power until a new election. The ruling party says there is “no possibility” of one in 2017.

The opposition wants it as soon as possible.

Exercise restraint

Tshisekedi is calling on people inside and outside DRC to no longer recognise Kabila’s authority and calls his actions “treason”.

However, the SA government called on parties to seek peaceful solutions to the political developments in the DRC in line with the country’s Constitution and the Security Council Resolution 2277 (2016).

“The South African Government supports the outcomes of the National Political Dialogue facilitated by AU facilitator Mr Edem Kodjo, as well as the current National Episcopal Conference of Congo’s (CENCO) direct talks led by President Mgr. Marcel Utembi.”

“South Africa likewise renews the call on all stakeholders to uphold the principles, ideals and aspirations of the Congolese people as enshrined in the DRC Constitution in accordance with the SADC and AU principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

“South Africa continues to call on all parties to exercise restraint and to take urgent steps to end the violence and restore the protection given to the people of DRC through its Constitution. Likewise, the Congolese Diaspora is urged to work through their political leaders in the DRC, and not to resort to violence.”

Government also called on the international community to assist the DRC.

DRC-ICC – courtto release Katanga after serving two thirds of sentence

International Criminal Court/allAfrica

The Hague — Today, 13 November 2015, a Panel of three Judges of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), specifically appointed by the Appeals Chamber, reviewed Germain Katanga’s sentence and decided to reduce it.

Accordingly, the date for the completion of his sentence is set to 18 January 2016.

In today’s decision, the Panel composed of Judges Piotr Hofmanski, Presiding, Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Christine Van den Wyngaert, conducted a review concerning the reduction of Mr Katanga’s sentence pursuant to article 110 of the Rome Statute, which provides that “[w]hen the person has served two thirds of the sentence; [… ] the Court shall review the sentence to determine whether it should be reduced”.

Germain Katanga was sentenced, on 23 May 2014, to a total of 12 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty, as an accessory, of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The time spent by Mr Katanga in detention prior to being convicted was deducted from the sentence imposed. Accordingly, on 18 September 2015, Mr Katanga had served the statutory two-thirds of his sentence.

 The Panel considered the parties’ and participants’ observations, and examined all factors set out in the Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The Panel found the following factors to support a reduction in Mr Katanga’s sentence: (i) an early and continuing willingness by Mr Katanga to cooperate with the Court in its investigations and prosecutions; (ii) a genuine dissociation from his crimes demonstrated by Mr Katanga’s conduct while in detention; (iii) the prospect of resocialisation and successful resettlement of Mr Katanga; and (iv) a change in Mr Katanga’s individual circumstances.

In particular, the Panel found that Mr Katanga had “repeatedly and publically taken responsibility for the crimes for which he was convicted, as well as expressed regret for the harm caused to the victims by his actions”. The Panel also considered that Mr Katanga’s early release would give rise to some social instability in the DRC, but found no evidence to suggest that it would be of a significant level.

Taking into account the number of factors favouring a reduction in sentence and the extent of reduction that those factors supported, the three Judges concluded that it is appropriate to reduce Mr Katanga’s sentence by 3 years and 8 months.

The reparations proceedings in this case are currently before Trial Chamber II and a decision on reparations for victims will be rendered in due course.

DR Congo – 21 thought dead in machete gang attack in North Kivu


KINSHASA (Reuters) – At least 21 people were killed overnight in the town of Mayangose in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo by machete-wielding assailants, a civil society leader said on Wednesday.

“They surprised the peasants who were sleeping in their houses,” Omar Kavota, a spokesman for the Civil Society of North Kivu said by telephone from the nearby hub of Beni. “They killed 14 men and seven women, but this time they spared the young children.”

The U.N. mission in the country said on its Twitter feed that unidentified attackers had massacred civilians at Mayangose, without giving a death toll.


Ugandan ADF rebels attack DR Congo border town

Thousands flee DR Congo flee after Uganda’s ADF

More than 30,000 people have fled DR Congo after a group of Ugandan rebels attacked a border town, says the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

The Allied Democratic Forces raided the town of Kamango on Thursday, according to the Ugandan army spokesman.

The Congolese national army has now retaken Kamango.

The ADF is based in mineral-rich eastern DR Congo, where numerous armed groups have caused havoc over the past two decades.

The huge number of refugees came in so quickly that the government and aid workers are still working out what to do, says the BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in Bundibudgyo, on the Ugandan border with the DRC.

Long wait
No food or adequate shelter has been distributed to the refugees. Many had to sleep out in the open in school compounds, or on the verandas of shops, she says.

The ADF was formed in 1996 by a puritanical Muslim sect in the Ruwenzori mountains of western Uganda.

In 1998 it increased its activities and a number of bomb blasts in markets and restaurants in Kampala were blamed on the group.

After years of sporadic raids, the Ugandan army almost destroyed the ADF’s capacity in 2004 and it moved into DR Congo.

However, a United Nations report last year said the rebels had expanded their military capacity and established links with Somalia’s al-Shabab militants.