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Congo (Kinshasa): Peacekeeping Steps
Apr 4, 2005 (050404)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
As the United Nations Security Council last week approved another
six-month extension for the peacekeeping force in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo linked to the
1994 genocide declared their willingness to disarm and enter a UN
plan for repatriation. And militia in Ituri district in northeastern Congo
continued to enter UN camps for demobilization,
while the commander of the UN force in the Congo said that those
who did not disarm voluntarily would be disarmed by force.
These small steps forward in the long-delayed implementation of the
transition to peace in Congo (Kinshasa) may indicate new prospects
of success for MONUC, the largest current UN peacekeeping
operation, numbering more than 16,000 troops. But the pervasive
insecurity in eastern Congo is still linked to resolution of
political rivalries within the transitional government in Kinshasa,
says a new report from the International Crisis Group (ICG). The
international community needs to be far more proactive in pushing
to press through the impasse, the report concludes,
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains two brief news reports on the
latest development from the UN's Integrated Regional Information
Networks (IRIN), and the press release and executive summary of the
new ICG report.
For the full ICG report, visit http://www.crisisgroup.org
The official site of MONUC, http://www.monuc.org, has extensive
background and current information, in English and French,
including links to the broadcasts of Radio Okapi, the UN-sponsored
radio operating through eight regional stations in the Congo.
Additional background and regularly updated news from AllAfrica.com
and IRIN are available on the AfricaFocus website at:
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peacekeeping issues, see
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
[This material from IRIN may not necessarily reflect the views of
the United Nations or its agencies.]
DRC-Rwanda: Rebel group ready to disarm
Nairobi, 31 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Leaders of a Rwandan armed group
operating from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced
on Thursday their intention to end attacks against their homeland,
according to the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC.
Moreover, the leaders of the Forces democratique de liberation de
Rwanda (FDLR) indicated a willingness to enter a UN programme of
disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, reinstallation and
"In the light of this declaration by the FDLR, MONUC is ready to
work out a timetable and details for undertaking the repatriation,"
MONUC said in a statement.
In response to the FDLR's announcement, William Swing, the head of
MONUC, said in the statement that the decision created new
prospects for a rapid and final resolution to the presence of armed
Rwandans in the DRC.
Swing, who is also the Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General in the DRC, was quoted as saying the move by the
FDLR might clear the way for the rapid reestablishment of normal
diplomatic ties between Rwanda and the DRC.
FDLR fighters could assemble temporarily in the east of the country
- at Hombo, Sake, Lubero, Walungu, Sange and Kanyabayonga - prior
to their repatriation, according to MONUC.
On arrival at these sites, MONUC would register the combatants and
their close relatives before transporting them under UN escort to
the border with Rwanda. There, the Rwandan authorities would assume
responsibility for the returnees under their own national programme
of demobilisation and reintegration, MONUC said.
MONUC has promised to record and destroy all weapons handed in by
the Rwandan fighters. Previously, FDLR leaders have been accused of
blocking attempts by some ex-fighters to enter the DDRRR process
and return home.
Improved relations between Rwanda and the DRC would offer the
possibility of a "significant opening of humanitarian access" in
the zones in which the Rwandan ex-combatants are located, MONUC
Moreover, it said, their repatriation would improve the climate for
general elections due in the DRC later this year.
DRC: Uncooperative fighters will be hunted down, MONUC says
Bunia, 1 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Militiamen in Congo's Ituri District who
failed to comply with a UN ultimatum to disarm will be hunted down,
Gen Jean-Francois Collot d'Escury, chief of staff of the UN Mission
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), has said.
"If you do not surrender your arms by 1 April you will be treated
like armed bandits and war criminals and we will chase you," Collot
d'Escury said on Wednesday.
The warning, issued during a news conference, was aimed at
thousands of militiamen still roaming in Ituri District in the
northeastern province of Orientale. Should the militias resist
disarmament, UN troops would seek and destroy militia camps, the
MONUC spokeswoman for Bunia, Rachel Eklou, told IRIN.
At the end of February, the UN ordered militiamen to enter a
programme, which started in September 2004, to disarm and either
enter civilian life, or join the new Congolese army.
MONUC estimates there are some 15,000 militiamen still roaming
around Ituri. Half of them are children thought to be associated
with armed groups, but not necessarily combatants.
The armed groups still active in Ituri are the Union des patriotes
Congolais-Lunbanga wing (UPC-L), the UPC-Kisembo wing, the Forces
armees du peuple Congolais of Jerome Kakwavu, the Front des
nationalistes et integrationnistes of Floribert Ndjabu Ngabu, the
Forces de resistance patriotiques en Ituri, the Parti pour l'unite
et sauvegarde de l'integrite du Congo and the Forces populaires
pour la democratie au Congo.
So far, about 6,300 militiamen have been disarmed. The National
Commission for Disarmament, or CONADER, has confiscated almost 400
rounds of 81 mm shells, 380 landmines, 70 grenades and several
thousand rounds of ammunition.
Weary of what may immediately follow the expiration of the UN
disarmament deadline, humanitarian aid agencies have decided to
scale back their activities for one week.
"One week of observation is a typical precautionary measure,"
Modibo Traore, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs, told IRIN. "After the MONUC deadline, lots of
movement and disorder may arise during the search for bandits and
criminals. The displacement of the population may aggravate the
Anticipating this possibility, the humanitarian community increased
in March its food aid to areas heavily populated by internally
displaced persons. This measure was taken to help cover for the
observation period, Traore said.
However, MONUC said it would not slam the door shut on those
militiamen still willing to disarm, even after the deadline.
"The doors will remain open until mid-April," Collot d'Escury said.
He acknowledged that the different transit sites set up to process
militiamen did not have the capacity to handle the hundreds of
combatants showing up daily, which was not really expected.
In addition, militia leaders told IRIN they failed to see how their
fighters could be integrated either into the army or civilian life
in such a short time if the measure could not be implemented in the
"In ten months the UPC has not integrated into the army. How can
they integrate in 15 days?" Remy Banyina, a member of the Hema UPC
A leading member of the Lendu FNI militia, alias Commandant Unega,
is wanted by MONUC and did not want to disclose his real name. He
said MONUC and the transitional government should be more lenient
on the disarmament deadline.
"In the Bunia area we surrendered all our arms, but we also have to
address our combatants who are farther away and have still not
disarmed. We need more time from MONUC," he said.
However, MONUC said the militias had been given enough time to
disarm. On 16 May 2003, the militias signed an agreement in Dar es
Salaam, Tanzania to end hostilities and confine their fighters to
bases. A consultative committee of armed groups, headed by MONUC,
was also established to monitor compliance with the accord.
Ituri's inhabitants are anxiously awaiting the disarmament of all
militia. One Hema trader in Buina's main market, Sophie Furaha,
recalled how Hema militia raped her sister.
"During the day they walk around like saints, but at night they
emerge as killers," she said. "They raped my sister in front of me
and my parents - yet they belonged to us. We have suffered too much
from these uncontrolled, undisciplined and drugged militias."
Other Ituri residents fear that the situation would not improve
even if the militias are disarmed.
"I have no confidence in the Congolese army. They have not behaved
well in Ituri in the past," a 17-year-old girl, requesting
anonymity, told IRIN.
There are Ituri residents, like Cecile Nyamundu, 70, who believe
the militias will only surrender some of their guns.
"If they have five weapons, they will surrender one. With the rest,
they will make trouble," she said.
There are already indications that some of the militias have turned
to banditry. On 24 March, armed men attacked a vehicle belonging to
the NGO Solidarity International on the road to Gina, 50 km north
of Bunia, in an area under UPC control. OCHA said the attackers
then stole the vehicle. The driver was wounded and an expatriate
aid worker maltreated.
Last week a bus with 80 passengers travelling to Beni in North Kivu
was ambushed in Kombokabo about 30 km southwest of Bunia. One
passenger was seriously wounded, but the bus was able to speed off.
Ituri District Commissioner Patronille Vaweka said the situation
was unlikely to improve immediately.
"One has to realise that what has been destroyed in a single day
can take years to rebuild," she said.
The Congo's Transition Is Failing: Crisis in the Kivus
International Crisis Group (Brussels)
March 30, 2005 Nairobi/Brussels
As the UN Security Council debates this week the terms of renewing
the mandate of its peacekeeping force in the Congo, decisive action
is needed to prevent a return to full-scale combat in that ravaged
country and the destabilisation of much of Central Africa.
The Congo's Transition Is Failing: Crisis in the Kivus. the latest
report from the International Crisis Group, examines the political
stalemate in Kinshasa and new military tensions in the Kivus
region, where 1,000 people are dying every day in the ongoing
political and humanitarian tragedy. The international community,
which funds the political transition, needs to rein in spoilers,
both inside the transition and outside it, and do a better job of
training the new Congolese army. Also, the UN peacekeeping mission
(MONUC) needs to get tougher with the Rwandan insurgents, the FDLR.
"Neither MONUC nor the wider international community has shown the
necessary will to address the Congo's crises", says Suliman Baldo,
Director of Crisis Group's Africa Program. "But donors finance over
half the transitional government's budget, so they have clear
leverage to take serious action against those who work against
unification of the army and administration".
As it approaches the end of its second year, the transition risks
breaking apart over the unreconciled ambitions of the former civil
war belligerents. There is insufficient interest in making the
peace process work in Kinshasa, where few leaders are interested in
free and fair elections, now scheduled for June 2005 though almost
certain to be delayed.
The transitional government has moved some aspects of the power
struggle from the battlefield to Kinshasa back rooms, but former
belligerents still compete for resources and power through parallel
chains of army and government commands. Many stand to lose power in
the elections and are set on prolonging or disrupting the
transition. Recent fighting in North Kivu, which displaced over
100,000 people and killed thousands, was potent evidence that
actors in Kinshasa still use violence to further their aims.
Appropriate solutions must address the political problems in the
capital as well as the local conflicts in the Kivus, the eastern
provinces where the wars of the 1990s began. In Kinshasa this means
living up to the promise of the Sun City Agreement that brought the
transition into existence: former belligerents must complete their
MONUC needs more troops, but the bigger problem is how it uses the
resources it does have -- its willingness to use force as necessary
to prevent worse violence. And after MONUC's sexual abuse scandal,
the international community must urgently help it restore its
credibility among Congolese.
"The most difficult task is to force progress from actors who have
an interest in the status quo", says Baldo. "The international
community must draw on the support of the 60 million Congolese
exhausted from war and demanding the transition live up to its
promises, to help it get a grip on the spoilers".
As it approaches the end of its second year, the Congo's transition
risks breaking apart on the unreconciled ambitions of the former
civil war belligerents. Inability to resolve political differences
in Kinshasa have been mirrored by new military tensions that the
parties, as well as Rwanda, have stirred up in the Kivus, the
birthplace of both wars that ravaged the country in the past
decade. June 2005 national elections are imperilled, and 1,000 are
dying daily in the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis. To
reverse these ominous trends, the international community needs to
use the leverage its aid gives it to rein in the spoilers in
Kinshasa, and it needs to do a better, quicker job of training the
new Congolese army. And the UN Mission (MONUC) needs to get tougher
in dealing with the Rwandan insurgents, the FDLR, who provide
Kigali with a justification for dangerous meddling.
Beginning in February 2004, dissidents from the former rebel
movement Rassemblement Congolais pour la D‚mocratie-Goma (RCD-G)
sparked clashes in the Kivu provinces of the eastern Congo. These
were the result of disagreement within the transitional government
over power-sharing in the army and the administration but the
conflict was exacerbated by the interference of Rwanda, which sent
troops across the border in November 2004, claiming to pursue the
Hutu extremist FDLR. The resulting fighting displaced over 100,000
civilians and pushed the transition to the brink of collapse.
The fighting in the east is closely linked to the political impasse
in the capital. The defining characteristic of the transitional
government has been its weakness and the opportunism of its key
members, who have little appetite for the approaching elections.
None of the signatories of the Sun City Agreement, which ushered in
the transition in 2003, has strong control of either its military
or political wing.
Parallel chains of command persist in the army as well as in the
administration as the former belligerents compete for resources and
power. All still use taxation schemes and mining deals to enrich
themselves. Many stand to lose power in the elections, and they are
set on prolonging or disrupting the transition. This political
weakness at the centre has allowed military conflicts to fester on
The crisis in the east, which is again centred on tensions between
the Congolese Hutu and Tutsi and other communities, has been
manipulated by the Kinshasa contestants and Rwanda in pursuit of
their own interests. The dissidents are hard-line Hutu and Tutsi
from the RCD-G who feel their interests are not served in the
transitional government. They have created a new "rwandophone"
identity in order to fuse Congolese Hutu and Tutsi together, while
President Kabila's party has roused anti-Rwandan sentiment. This
manipulation of identity has raised the spectre of communal
violence in a region where such feuds killed over 3,000 civilians
The dissidents have some 8,000 to 12,000 troops around the city of
Goma in North Kivu, faced by an equal number of Kinshasa troops.
While hardliners on both sides want a military solution, neither
has the strength to achieve it. The conflict can only be ended by
bringing the moderate leadership of the dissidents back into the
transitional institutions, while arresting or marginalising the
others. This, in turn, will only be possible if the Kinshasa
power-sharing issues are resolved.
Any peace initiative in the east must address the presence of the
8,000-10,000 Hutu rebels of the Forces D‚mocratiques pour la
Lib‚ration du Rwanda (FDLR). They have been severely weakened and
are no longer a strategic threat to Kigali but they are still able
to conduct raids into Rwanda, and are a serious threat to civilians
in the Congo, where they constitute a liability for the transition.
The new Congolese army has ultimate responsibility for dealing with
the FDLR but the army will remain weak and disorganised for the
foreseeable future. The international community needs to launch an
International Military Assistance and Training Team (IMATT) to
support it. Efforts underway by South Africa, Belgium and Angola
are a promising first step but more coordination and
standardisation, as well as funding, are required.
Neither MONUC nor the wider international community has shown the
ability or the will to address the Congo's crises. While donors
finance over half the budget, they have been unable or unwilling to
take serious action against the spoilers in the transitional
government, who work against unification of the army and
administration. Some members of the government have been suspended
for corruption but none has faced criminal charges. Indeed, the
government has rewarded criminality by naming accused war criminals
from Ituri to senior army posts.
Similarly, MONUC has not lived up to much of its mandate. While it
has the clear tasks of protecting civilians, monitoring the arms
embargo, and supporting the new army against the FDLR, it has yet
to devise a coherent strategy for any of these. Especially in the
wake of the scandal involving sexual abuse by MONUC, there is
urgent need for the international community to help it take urgent
steps to restore its credibility among the Congolese. MONUC does
not have enough troops, but the bigger problem is how it uses the
resources it does have.
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