In Congo investigators continue to probe the so-called “China deal” which was meant to trade Congo minerals for infrastructure projects built by China. The overall deal is worth billions -- published estimates run from $6.8 to $10 billion. China is – or was—supposed to build roads, schools and hospitals. A recent report by an NGO (Non-Government Organization) that specializes in tracking money laundering and international financial crime scrutinized one of the “China deal’s” subsidiary contracts between a Chinese state-owned engineering firm and the Congolese government. It’s only worth a few hundred million dollars. The investigators found evidence that the engineering contract was used to distribute $55 million to senior members of former President Joseph Kabila’s government. The bribery plot used several shell companies in Congo and elsewhere that made the operation look legitimate. The shell companies provided fake invoices and other paperwork. One even provided fake telephone justifications for payment. Some of the money flowed through major European and American banks. The investigators believe that originally $65 million was designated for illegal payouts. However, Kabila was no longer president. In the last two years he has lost control of Congo’s mineral and financial ministries. Kabila also lost control of Congo’s BGFI Bank DRC which was involved in the scheme. The group distributing the Chinese cash retained control of the last $10 million. But stay tuned. Other “China deal” side arrangements are also under investigation. (Austin Bay)
December 29, 2021: In east-central Congo (Tshopo province) the government declared an end to a four-month long meningitis outbreak. There were 2,662 known cases and 7.7 percent of them (205) were fatal. Without treatment the fatality rate reaches 50 percent. To the east Tshopo borders Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.
December 28, 2021: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) the army has been fighting CODECO (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) rebels and ADF Islamic terrorists for most of the last week. There have been nearly 200 casualties, mainly among CODECO and ADF forces. The fighting has displaced thousands of civilians, which makes it easier for the army to use its aerial surveillance, artillery and air strike capability against the rebels.
CODECO commits a substantial number of the attacks and atrocities in Ituri, as well as across the border in Uganda. The violence in eastern Congo is mainly in Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province. CODECO is predominantly a Lendu tribal organization, as are many of militias in eastern Congo. ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) is also from Uganda and has more Moslem radicals than rebels. 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.
December 27, 2021: China’s Huaxin Cement conglomerate has acquired two central African cement producers, Lafarge Zambia ($150 million) and Lafarge Cement Malawi ($10 million).
December 25, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a suicide bombing attack in Beni city left at least six dead, including the attacker while 14 others were injured. Police blamed the ADF Islamic terrorists for the attack.
December 21, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) several hundred demonstrators clashed with police in Goma (the provincial capital). A security spokesman said that protestors had seized three weapons from police, killed two police officers and injured two more. At least two civilians have been killed and six injured. The protestors claim the government has failed to protect them from attacks by armed groups (like the ADF). Yet they are also fed up with the “state of siege” in North Kivu province. They claim the Congolese military has effectively removed civilian administrators and is acting beyond its authority.
In Rwanda the government announced that 302 soldiers have completed the 11 month long Basic Special Operation Forces training course. The class consisted of 18 junior officers (lieutenants) and 18 junior officers (lieutenants) and 284 enlisted personnel. The course focused on special operations tactics, combat engineering operations, airborne operations, hand to hand combat and advanced individual weapons training. Over the last decade the Rwandan government has made an effort to professionalize its army and upgrade its soldiers’ combat skills.
December 20, 2021: The EU (European Union) temporarily suspended its training mission for the Central African Republic’s (CAR) military forces. The EU objects to the degree of "control” exercised by mercenaries from the (Russian) Wagner company over the CAR Armed Forces. The EU is also concerned that Wagner mercenaries working with the FACA may try to hire CAR soldiers. The EU’s training director recently claimed that Wagner mercenaries do not respect international humanitarian law. Russia claims that it has only 1,135 “unarmed” trainers and instructors in the CAR. France, the UN and the EU, however, claim that a substantial number of those instructors are armed Wagner mercenaries.
December 19, 2021: In eastern Congo (Ituri and North Kivu provinces) Congo and Uganda claimed their forces have destroyed several ADF rebel bases so far. The joint-Congo-Uganda military operation began November 30. The joint operation has attacked ADF facilities in North Kivu near Beni, the largest city. One strike hit an ADF base in Virunga National Park. Virunga occupies a large portion of North Kivu because the park covers over 7,800 square kilometers. Between December 11 and 15 Congolese and Ugandan soldiers captured 35 ADF terrorists “in villages in the Irumu district” (Ituri province) and freed 31 hostages.
December 16, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) the government declared an end to the latest Ebola epidemic. The outbreak began in early October. All told, 11 people were infected and six died.
December 13, 2021: President Felix Tshisekedi of Congo revealed that Ugandan and Congolese troops were conducting military operations inside Congo. The Ugandan Army is helping attack the ADF Islamist terror group. The ADF was originally organized in Uganda among Moslem tribes. Tshisekedi also said the Ugandan soldiers will be in Congo for a very short time. The joint operation featured air and artillery strikes on ADF bases in eastern Congo. Uganda blames the ADF for November’s suicide bombing attacks in Kampala. Four people died in the attacks and several dozen were wounded. In 2019 the ADF began claiming it is now allied with ISIL.
The United States imposed visa restrictions on eight individuals identified as illegally trafficking Congolese wildlife and wildlife products. All eight were involved in trafficking in either endangered live wild animals or wildlife products, such as ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn. This was the result of a long-term investigation that paid off in early November when Congolese police in the capital (Kinshasa) seized $3.5 million worth of ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales. Congolese action was coordinated with American police operations. On November 3 the U.S. Justice Department arrested two Congolese citizens in Seattle, Washington and charged the men with money-laundering and shipping illegal ivory and white rhino horn to the U.S. The joint action is part of a larger effort by Congo to stop trafficking in wildlife products. That effort really began in late 2015. From 1999 to 2014, Congo seized a total of 7.8 tons of ivory. From 2015 to 2019, Congo seized 20.9 tons.
December 11, 2021: The two Red Cross staff members kidnapped in eastern Congo in November have been released.
December 10, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) ADF gunmen killed 16 people in two small scale attacks on rural villages. Several of the people were killed by ADF Islamic terrorists wielding machetes, An unknown number of villagers were abducted. The attacks occurred as a joint Congolese-Ugandan military operation in the region is targeting the ADF.
December 9, 2021: ICC (International Criminal Court) judges confirmed war crimes and crimes against humanity charges against Mahamat Said Abdel Kani. The charges include torture, persecution and enforced disappearance. Said is the former commander of the CAR’s "Seleka" faction. Means "alliance" in the Sango language. French and Sango are the CAR’s two official languages. The Seleka coalition predominantly consisted of men from the CAR's minority Muslim tribes (who live in the northern portion of the country). In 2013 Seleka rebels overthrew CAR President Francois Bozize. Seleka took power and proceeded to violently oppress other CAR tribes. Seleka has now fractured into several factions.
December 8, 2021: UN peacekeepers in Congo reached a new agreement with the local armed forces that will make it easier to organize joint peacekeeper/army operations against armed militias and groups in eastern Congo. The agreement gives the peacekeepers the operational flexibility to provide the army with artillery and attack helicopter support during joint operations. The UN currently has around 16,000 military and police peacekeepers in Congo.
In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) unidentified gunmen opened fire on a UN refugee agency vehicle and wounded three UN staff members.
December 3, 2021: A recent report looked at Zambia’s debts to China. Here’s the bottom line. From 2000 to 2010 Chinese financial groups loaned Zambia around $10.3 billion. So far Zambia has only repaid $1.2 billion. Zambia fears it will be another victim of Chinese Debt Trap tactics which involve offers to settle such debts by taking possession of key items, like ports, railroads or mining rights, that China wants to control.
December 1, 2021: China is urging Chinese citizens now in eastern Congo (South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri provinces) to immediately move to safer areas in Congo. In the last month at least a dozen Chinese citizens living in these provinces have been attacked or kidnapped. It is believed most Chinese nationals in these areas are involved in businesses dealing in minerals and other manufacturing resources.
November 30, 2021: Ugandan military officials confirmed that Uganda has launched several air and artillery attacks as part of its joint military operation with Congolese troops inside Congo. A senior Ugandan officer said that the attacks targeted ADF base camps. President Tshisekedi of Congo was largely responsible for mobilizing Congolese support for these joint operations. This involved allowing Ugandan troops to operate inside Congo.
November 28, 2021: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) CODECO militiamen launched another attack on the Ivo displaced people’s (DP) camp in Ituri province. The latest attack left 22 civilians dead. In an attack a week ago, CODECO fighters killed 29 people in Ivo. In early May the Congolese government declared a state of siege in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.