DR Congo army ‘close to collapse’

BBC

congoSoldiers are refusing to take on the rebels without pay. The army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is at risk of disintegrating, senior UN peacekeepers have said.  There have been a series of mutinies by troops who have not been paid their salary for several months. A UN officer told the BBC that army commanders are not passing money on to their troops under their command. The BBC’s Thomas Fessy says in the latest incident soldiers fired in the air for an hour and half and refused to go on a mission to fight rebels.

 Our reporter says there have been another 10 such cases in the last week in North Kivu where UN forces and the Congolese army are conducting a joint offensive against ethnic Hutu rebels from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

 Many of these rebels fled to DR Congo after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which some its leaders were accused of taking part.

 Base attacked

 Fighting has also been reported about 100km (62 miles) north-west of Goma, where Congolese soldiers have fired on a UN base in protest over pay and 27 soldiers have been arrested.

 In pictures:

Civilians easy prey

 A UN spokesman told the BBC the situation needed to be dealt with.  “There is a risk of a potential disintegration of the Congolese army,” he said.

 Over the last few months, members of the Tutsi-dominated rebel militia, the Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), have been integrated into the national army. There has been a fast-track integration of the CNDP and we are now seeing the results. The commanders are getting the money but not distributing it,” the UN spokesperson said.  Our reporter says villagers in the region are worried about their safety and soldiers have been stealing their crops to eat.