The M23 rebels are among the other rebel groups and Congolese army who have been accused of extorting money from locals to pay their soldiers. Credit: William Lloyd-George/IPS
By Taylor Toeka Kakala
GOMA , Mar 15 2013 (IPS) – On the way to his fields, Denise Mambo, a resident of Kitshanga, North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, stops at a rope laid across his path.
“No one is allowed to go past this rope without paying the ‘lala salama’,” a Congolese army (FARDC) sergeant known only by the nickname Django tells IPS.
The “lala salama”, Swahili for “sleep in peace”, is an illegal tax often imposed by the army and rebels in the eastern DRC battlegrounds of North and South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga and Eastern provinces — and particularly in the Ituri region in the northeast.
Kinshasa—Democratic Republic of Congo fugitive rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, has handed himself to the US embassy in Rwanda asking to be turned over to the International Criminal Court where he is wanted for suspected war crimes.
“We have learned today that Bosco Ntaganda entered Rwanda and surrendered to US Embassy in Kigali,” read the message on Rwanda’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo posted on her twitter account Monday.
General Ntaganda, who led a mutiny in April against the Congolese government, is wanted by the ICC on account of an arrest warrant released in 2006 for war crimes allegedly committed during his days as rebel leader between 2002 and 2003.
The US State department has confirmed Gen Ntaganda’s surrender to its embassy in Kigali, saying they were in contact with the ICC and the Rwandan government to facilitate his request.
By George Gao
A ScanEagle UAV sits on a catapult in Iraq prior to launch. Credit: public domain
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26 2013 (IPS) – On the long meadows of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, a man pilots an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – more commonly referred to as drones – in figure eights to the amusement of his Labrador.
A few miles north on the other side of the East River, U.N. delegates mull over a more serious idea for drones – their deployment, for surveillance purposes, into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Continue reading
KINSHASA, 22 January 2013 (IRIN) – Some 40,000 former Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are living in limbo, unwilling to go home but lacking legal status in DRC.
In June 2012, it was determined that the circumstances – created by a civil war – that led to refugee status being granted to tens of thousands of Angolans were no longer in place. Under the terms of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, this means that there is no longer a prima facie case for international protection. In short, the refugee status of these Angolans was revoked. Continue reading
On the 52nd anniversary of the vicious assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Ama Biney reflects on both the current state of the DRC and Africa, arguing that the Congo is not only a ‘world problem’ but remains critical to the future unity of Africa due to its resources and geo-strategic location Continue reading
By Carey L. Biron
WASHINGTON, Dec 11 2012 (IPS) – President Barack Obama’s top diplomat on African affairs on Tuesday defended the U.S. administration’s response to the continued crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the face of stepped up criticism from both civil society and U.S. lawmakers. Since April, violence has spiked in the eastern part of the DRC, perpetrated in part by an armed group known as the M23 – a group that three U.N. reports this year have found to be receiving support from the Rwandan government, a key U.S. ally. Over the past eight months, the renewed conflict has displaced some 2.4 million people, culminating in the recent fall of Goma, the largest city in the eastern part of the country, to the rebels. Continue reading
December 10, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As the situation once again dramatically deteriorates in eastern Congo, the U.S. response to the crisis has patently failed and is out of step with other Western nations. The United States must take immediate steps to address meaningfully one of the greatest ongoing humanitarian crises of our generation. We call on you to appoint a Presidential Envoy to lead a coordinated U.S. response to the crisis, to support the appointment of a U.N. Envoy to the Great Lakes, to support the imposition of sanctions against violators of the United Nations arms embargo on DRC, and, finally, to cut all military assistance and suspend other non- humanitarian aid to the government of Rwanda for its support of the M23 insurgency. Continue reading
New York Times
The Democratic Republic of Congo is as large as the United States east of the Mississippi and is home to vast expanses of pristine rain forest, rare animal species and highly valuable minerals and natural resources. Yet Congo is also one of the poorest, most chaotic nations on the planet, ruined by unrest that is estimated to have claimed millions of lives in the past 10 years. In many corners of the country, law, order, electricity and medicine are virtually nonexistent. Mass rape has been epidemic, a tactic practiced both by government forces and the militias that dominate vast stretches of the country. Continue reading
After the eastern rebels trounce the national army and opposition movements step up the pressure, the President is fighting for his political life.
The seizure of Goma by the Mouvement du 23 mars rebels on 20 November has dangerously weakened the regime of President Joseph Kabila Kabange. Backed by Rwanda and Uganda, M23’s brutal campaign in eastern Congo threatens Kinshasa both by exposing the government’s inability to protect the public and by forming opportunistic alliances with other oppositionists. On 28 November, at least some M23 commanders were responding to international pressure to withdraw from Goma but they were tying this to negotiating conditions. Some commanders said they were prepared to pull their troops back to 30 kilometres outside Goma but continued to maintain a threatening posture. There are also credible reports that M23 forces have stolen over US$50 million from the city’s branch of the Banque centrale du Congo. Continue reading
Kinshasa, 22 November 2012
1. We, Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Bishop Presidents of National Caritas in Africa, coming from thirty four countries of the continent, gathered in a Conference on the identity and mission of Caritas in Kinshasa from November 20th to 22nd, 2012, express deep concern and solidarity with the Congolese people. We are outraged and shocked by the escalating armed violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo which is causing again a major human tragedy. Continue reading