Some problems just won’t go away, May 1st marked the first anniversary of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi’s “state of siege” declaration that put Ituri and North Kivu provinces under martial law. Tshisekedi argued the rampant, daily violence justified his decision. Despite extending the state of siege 22 times, murderous attacks on civilians by armed militias and terrorists continue to occur. Attacks in both provinces have increased in the last four months. Atrocities against civilians increased in March.
In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a Uganda-Congo joint military operation continues. The joint operation seeks to protect civilians from attacks by ADF Islamist terrorists who are seeking out Catholic and Protestant Christians and killing them. Congo and Uganda recently agreed to increase the size of their joint force and expand the area where the joint force operates. Congo’s eastern neighbors regard the violence as a threat to their stability and the joint-force has proved an effective way to deal with this threat. The jointness experiment officially began April 21st at a regional summit in Kenya where Congo, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda agreed to establish a regional force to fight armed groups in the eastern Congo and adjacent areas. Everyone at this regional conference took the summit very seriously. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta chaired the conference. Congo’s Tshisekedi attended. So did Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni and Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye. Rwanda sent its foreign minister.
The main reason for using a joint force is that destructive political and cultural factors within Congo reduce the effectiveness of the local security forces. To defeat the rebels in eastern Congo, this problem must be openly discussed and addressed. Congolese corruption is one reason the militias haven’t been defeated, specifically chronic corruption within the security forces. One African analyst recently argued that for every three Congolese soldiers supposedly stationed in eastern Congo, only one actually fights militias and terrorists. A second soldier is assigned to guard a mine (usually one in which an army officer has an interest). As for the third soldier? He’s a ghost soldier. He doesn’t exist. Someone in his chain of command is pocketing his pay. The ghost soldier problem is world-wide. For example, “ghost soldiers” have hindered Russian operations in Ukraine. In some Russian battalions ordered to attack Ukraine only half the troops were deployed. For a bribe, corrupt commanders had let conscripts go home.
The fighting in Ukraine has had a major impact on food and other foreign aid for African nations. According to aid ground about 85 million Africans are going hungry and about ten percent of those in urgent need of food aid are facing starvation. Nearly a third of the African food aid demand is in Congo. Because of the reduction of grain exports from Ukraine and Russia, it costs 13 percent more to buy food aid. To make matters worse, the major donor countries are the ones providing support, mainly military, for Ukraine has reduced contribution for global food aid by 70 percent. (Austin Bay)
May 10, 2022: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) CODECO (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) militants killed 15 people while attacking a town. This is believed to be the same CODECO group that attacked a nearby mining site on May 8 and a mining camp on May 7. The death toll of all three attacks is at least 100 civilians. CODECO is feuding with several other armed militias, including the ADF, over Ituri’s rich mineral deposits. CODECO rebels are primarily from the Lendu tribe, so it also targets the rival Hema tribe.
May 8, 2022: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) CODECO militants killed at least 35 civilians when they raided an artisanal gold mining pit. Local authorities also accused CODECO of raiding a mining camp near the town of Mongwalu on May 7. In that attack the militants killed an estimated 50 people. This was mainly about who would control these illegal mining operations and be able to “tax” the operators for protection.
May 7, 2022: In CAR (Central African Republic) three mercenaries working for the Russian private military company Wagner Group face new accusations. Investigators have evidence that on April 10 Wagner Group personnel forcibly entered a hospital at an army base outside the capital (Bangui. Three of the Wagner Group men raped health workers and two women who had just given birth. The three accused men are Russians who are supposedly working in the CAR as military instructors.
May 6, 2022: In northwest Congo (Equateur province) there has been another Ebola virus outbreak. Three have died of Ebola since April 21. In late 2020 health experts believed the Ebola virus outbreak here was under control, but continued to call it a high-risk area. That’s because Equateur borders on the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and cross-border transmission remains possible. Ebola is fatal for about half the people who are infected. It is difficult to get infected as you must have physical contact with some infected or has recently died from Ebola. Public health officials have managed to convince most Congolese that this is the case and people act accordingly if someone comes down with Ebola. Not all neighboring countries are as well informed. Such is the case with the smaller nation of Congo on the other side of the Congo River.
May 4, 2022: The AU (African Union) reported that Burundian soldiers serving with the AU peacekeepers in Somalia Army peacekeepers suffered heavy casualties when al Shabaab Islamic terrorists attacked their base outside a about 150 kilometers north of the national capital Mogadishu. Al Shabab claimed it killed 173 soldiers in the attack. Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti also have troop contingents serving with the peacekeepers there.
May 1, 2022: Today is the first anniversary of President Tshisekedi’s “state of siege” declaration in Ituri and North Kivu provinces. The state of siege has been extended 22 times.
In the United States, the family of "Hotel Rwanda" hero Paul Rusesabagina revealed that two months ago they filed a $400 million (380 million euros) lawsuit against the Rwandan government and six high-ranking government officials, including president Paul Kagame. Rusesabagina was convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to a 25-year prison term. The suit alleges the Rwandan government and the six officials committed terrorism when they allegedly abducted, tortured and then illegally imprisoned him after conducting a sham trial. The family argues the government and the officials conspired to lure Rusesabagina from his home in Texas. Agents for the plotters promised him work in Burundi. In August 2020 Rusesabagina boarded a plane he thought was flying to Burundi. Instead, it landed in Rwanda and he was arrested. Rusesabagina is one of Rwanda’s most prominent citizens. In 1994 he was credited with saving several hundred people’s lives during the Hutu extremists’ genocide against ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates. At the time Rusesabagina managed a hotel in Kigali (Rwanda’s capital). On several occasions he has accused Kagame of being a dictator, and incited Kagame’s wrath. The family statement pointed out that has Belgian citizenship and also possesses a U.S. resident alien green card.
April 29, 2022: In CAR (Central African Republic) CPC rebels killed at least six soldiers when they attacked a military position outside a town in southeastern CAR. Four CPC attackers also died.
April 28, 2022: Economic analysts agree that Russia's Ukraine invasion dramatically increases the risk of hunger in sub-Saharan Africa. The rise in energy prices is obvious. A food shortage is all but certain since the fighting has disrupted shipping Russian and Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports. Food insecurity increases the chance of social unrest in already poor countries. Food shortages are already a critical issue in Congo, Madagascar and across Africa’s Sahel region. Several sub-Saharan countries are already requesting emergency economic aid from foreign donors to buy food.
April 27, 2022: In CAR (Central African Republic) parliament has voted unanimously to adopt the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as an official currency. The CAR is the first African country to adopt a cryptocurrency.
April 25, 2022: In Kenya peace talks between Congo’s government and armed militias operating in eastern Congo continue. The delegation representing M23 (March 23 Movement) was expelled following alleged M23 attacks in North Kivu province. M23 accuses the Congolese army of provoking clashes on April 23. Six other armed militias continue to participate in the talks.
April 24, 2022: In Uganda, Rwandan president Kagame is visiting for the first time in four years. He will meet with Ugandan president Museveni in the capital. The visit is another signal that Rwanda and Uganda intend to improve diplomatic relations.
April 21, 2022: Malawi (a small nation wedged between Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia) has begun using mini-solar grids to power rural grain mills and small manufacturing and repair facilities. The government says the mini-solar grids are more cost effective than running conventional electrical lines. Malawi has 20 million people. Approximately 15 million do not have electricity. Malawi refers to this program as village level solar power.
April 20, 2022: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) peacekeepers killed five ISCAP Islamic terrorists. ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) considers the ADF to be ISCAP (ISILs Central African Province). ADF pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2019 and later described itself as ISCAP. The name changes nothing because ADF continues its terrorist operations, primarily in eastern Congo. Kenyan soldiers serving with the peacekeeper elite Force Intervention Brigade (FIB, also IBDE) carried out this operation against ISCAP.
Peacekeeper and Congolese authorities investigating the March 29 downing of a UN helicopter believe the M23 the rebel group attacked the helicopter. M23 denies the allegation. Eight peacekeepers and observers on board were killed
April 15, 2022: In northwest Congo (Équateur Province) the government approved an auction to sell 16 oil drilling blocks located in the Congo River’s Cuvette Centrale (“central basin”) area. This move was challenged by critics who believe oil production would pollute the Cuvette Centrale, which is the second-largest forested area in the world after the Amazon. Critics contend Cuvette Centrale is a sensitive ecosystem. According to the UN around 75 million people from over 150 ethnic groups live in the region.
April 12, 2022: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) the last four members of an eight-man negotiating team seized in Ituri province have been released by CODECO rebels. The negotiating team arrived in Ituri in mid-February to negotiate with CODECO militants. CODECO took them hostage and claimed they were part of a Congolese Army operation. CODECO released one hostage March 21 and three more on April 4
April 11, 2022: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) ADF Islamic terrorists killed at least 30 people in attacks over the last two days. ADF attacked three villages.
April 7, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a grenade explosion at a bar inside a military base killed at least eight people. In the past ADF terrorists have targeted clubs serving alcohol.
April 5, 2022: The UN condemned an attack on UN peacekeepers that killed a Nepalese soldier. CODECO is likely responsible for the attack.
April 4, 2022: A Rwandan appeals court upheld the 25-year prison sentence imposed on Paul Rusesabagina. In September 202 was convicted on charges of terrorism charges. Rusesabagina is a member of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which opposes president Paul Kagame. However, he denies responsibility for violence by the MRCD’s armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN).
In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) ADF Islamic terrorists killed at least 21 civilians in a night attack on a village.
April 2, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) M23 rebels declared a unilateral ceasefire after engaging in a series of firefights with the army near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda.
April 1, 2022: Congo is now a full-fledged member of the East African Community (EAC) trade bloc. Effective date of membership is March 29. 2022. The EAC common market was formed in 2010. Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania are the other EAC members.
March 29, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) eight UN personnel were killed when a UN helicopter crashed. An investigation is underway. The UN identified the personnel as six Pakistanis, a Serbian and a Russian. The helicopter may have been hit by ground fire. The helicopter was on a recon mission when it went down.