Friday, 28 October 2016

New Comprehensive Study - "A Criminal State: Understanding and Countering Institutionalized Corruption and Violence in Congo"

New Comprehensive Study - "A Criminal State: Understanding and Countering Institutionalized Corruption and Violence in Congo"

28/10/2016



Today, the Enough Project released a new comprehensive study, "A Criminal State: Understanding and Countering Institutionalized Corruption and Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo," by Sasha Lezhnev. The study, the second report in the the "Violent Kleptocracy: Corruption and Conflict in East and Central Africa" series, details how Congo is not a failed state—for everyone. It is a failure for the vast majority of Congolese who suffer from abysmal security, healthcare, and education services. However, it is an efficient state for ruling elites and their commercial partners who seek to extract or traffic resources at the expense of Congo’s development. Over the past 130 years, Congo has had many elements of violent kleptocracy, a system of state capture in which ruling networks and commercial partners hijack governing institutions and maintain impunity for the purpose of resource extraction and for the security of the regime. Violence has been the systemic companion of these regimes.  This study argues that President Kabila and his close associates rely in large part on theft, violence, and impunity to stay in power at the expense of the country’s development. If international policymakers are to have a real impact in helping Congolese reformers actually reform the system, they need to shift the lens through which they view the conflict.



The study identifies seven “Pillars” of Violent Kleptocracy:
  1. Let the security forces pay themselves. Mobutu said, “You have guns, you don’t need a salary.” In order to prevent being overthrown by force, the regime allows army commanders to become wealthy by exploiting resources and citizens, thus fueling cycles of conflict.
  2. Stay in power, or possibly lose everything. Leaving office can mean that regime connected elites lose their ill-gotten gains and immunity from prosecution. Pro-democracy movements are thus repressed, often violently, as they are threats to the corrupt system.
  3. Ensure there is little to no accountability for regime-connected elites. Impunity is the glue that holds the system together. Judicial systems target regime opponents or low-level figures, not high-level perpetrators of corruption or human rights abuses.
  4. Create parallel state structures and co-opt rebel groups to weaken political threats.Parallel chains of command are set up to ensure loyalty; rebels are brought into the army without vetting or real integration. The bloated army then commits abuses and collaborates with armed groups.
  5. Ensure that high-level officials benefit from corruption. If appointed to a military post or government office, the official is expected to pass payments up the chain. This system, “rapportage,” has led the real tax burden for Congolese citizens to be around 55 percent.
  6. Personally profit from natural resource deals, underspend on services, and hijack reforms. The regime receives bribes from certain outsiders to sell resources at very low prices, then outsiders flip them for large profits, depriving the Congolese state of massive revenue. Transparency reforms such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) help a bit, but the main vehicles for corruption—state-owned companies and their foreign shell company partners—remain opaque. The government deliberately underspends on public services, as its focus is on patronage.
  7. Confuse everyone by creating uncertainty on policies in order to increase corruption. The government creates institutions that contradict its own laws or policies, and state agencies impose and collect their own taxes, which increases predation.

"For too long, Congo's entrenched systems of theft and violence have been left to thrive. That has led to the death of millions of civilians, and now an acute constitutional crisis at the highest level of power. It has also spurred a mass popular movement demanding that Kabila must go, asserting the rights of the people to a democratic transition. There has never been a more important time for policy makers to view Congo as a hijacked -- not a failed -- state, and use the financial and legal tools at their disposal before this crisis reaches a fever pitch." - Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst

If international policymakers are to have a real impact in helping Congolese reformers actually transform the system of violent kleptocracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they need to shift lenses. Policies should focus on creating significant consequences for those most responsible for the system of violence, corruption, and undermining of democracy. This can be done by creating new leverage using tools of financial pressure normally reserved for countering nuclear proliferation and terrorism aimed at isolating certain leaders from the international financial system, and increasing support for Congolese civil society organizations and journalists to hold the government accountable. Policy goals should be two-fold:
  1. To create accountability for financial and human rights crimes
  2. To create new leverage for peace, human rights, and governance reforms.

The study recommends the following actions in order to address the system of violent kleptocracy in Congo:
Financial Pressure
The U.S. and other actors should combine the use of anti-money laundering measures with widened, enforced targeted sanctions designations, with the objective of freezing out of the international financial system those committing atrocities and undermining peace. The U.S. Congress should ensure that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has sufficient resources and direction to undertake investigations and enforcement. The United States should prioritize:
  • Enacting anti-money laundering measures.
  • Enhancing and fully enforcing targeted sanctions.
Accountability
The International Criminal Court (ICC), the United States, Central and East African nations, and European states should use judicial tools to target the facilitators of violence, prosecute corruption-related crimes, and bolster atrocity crimes cases with a strategy to target assets stolen by those responsible for serious crimes to impose real accountability. These tools include:
  • Targeting the facilitators of violence and prosecuting pillage.
  • Seizing criminally derived assets.
  • Prosecuting corruption-related crimes.
Good Governance and Transparency
The U.S., European, African, Asian, and multilateral institutions should support long-term democratic and transparency processes, governance reforms, and needed capacities by taking the following steps:
  • Pressing for the publication of financial reports and audits of state-owned companies and the China contract.
  • Reforming aid so that it no longer reinforces existing corrupt institutions.
  • Strengthening the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementation and urge completion of Congo’s Mining Code review with civil society input.
  • Supporting Congolese civil society with increased legal aid, protection, and capacity building.


ENOUGH PROJECT

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

DRC:Ortac Resources buys more shares in Casa Mining

DRC:Ortac Resources buys more shares in Casa Mining

25/10/2016

Last week Ortac bought a further 124,722 shares in Casa Mining

Ortac will issue over 251 shares to Balme for around 
£81,000 and he will now have an interest of around
 753.9mln Ortac shares - or 10.10% of the capital.

Ortac Resources Ltd (LON:OTC) has further increased its stake in Casa Mining and now holds 21.25% of the group, which holds highly prospective ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As reported last week, Ortac subscribed for further shares in the private company to maintain its stake after peer Premier African Minerals Limited's (LON:PREM) bought a  4.5% interest in CASA.
On October 21, Ortac has bought a further 124,722 shares - around 62,000 from AMC Ltd and around the same number from Carter Capital Ltd - both of which are controlled by Ortac's executive chairman Anthony Balme.
Ortac will issue over 251 shares to Balme for around £81,000 and he will now have an interest of around 753.9mln Ortac shares - or 10.10% of the capital.
Ortac chief executive Vassilios Carellas said: "This purchase of Casa Mining shares takes Ortac's shareholding to 21.25%, which not only materially increases Ortac's interest in CASA, but also aligns Mr Balme’s interests in CASA to those of the Ortac shareholders."
 By 

Monday, 24 October 2016

DR Congo/Report: Gunmen still control metals mined for modern gadgets

DR Congo/Report: Gunmen still control metals mined for modern gadgets

25/10/2016
A Congolese miner sifts through ground rocks to separate 
out the cassiterite, the main ore that’s processed into tin, in
 the town of Nyabibwe, eastern Congo, a once bustling 
outpost fueled by artisanal cassiterite mining. A new
 report released Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, shows violent,
 armed groups still exert control over pick-and-shovel
 miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite 
years of efforts by local reformers, Western activists 
and multinational companies like Apple and Intel that
 use minerals from the region in their products.
 Conditions are better for miners in some areas,
 but armed groups still threaten the gold sector.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article110283312.html#storylink=cpy

Violent gunmen still menace pick-and-shovel miners in eastern Congo, a new report finds, despite years of efforts to loosen their grip by local reformers, Western activists and companies like Apple and Intel that use minerals from the African region in their products.
Conditions are improving for miners who dig the ore that's processed into tin, tungsten and tantalum for smartphones and other electronics, though some still face interference from armed groups. But slumping demand and depressed prices for those minerals have driven many workers to dig instead for gold that's used in electronics, jewelry and other consumer products sold by Western companies.
Armed groups hold sway over mining sites where nearly two-thirds of Congo's gold miners ply their trade. There, under threat of violence, workers are often forced to pay illegal "taxes" that support corrupt army units, rebel groups or unauthorized militias. Sometimes they're conscripted into forced labor.
Those are the findings of an extensive field survey by the International Peace Information Service, a Belgian nonprofit whose research is frequently cited by activist groups and policy advisers to European and Western officials. IPIS is releasing its findings today.
The detailed report bolsters the recent observations of activists. "Things are slowly but surely changing," said Holly Dranginis, a senior policy analyst at the Enough Project, a U.S.-based advocacy group. "But armed groups still benefit from gold, and they are wreaking havoc on communities that are near the mines."
REIGN OF VIOLENCE
IPIS has sent researchers, teamed with industry and government officials, to inspect more than 1,600 mining sites in Congo over the last four years. Nearly 240,000 people, mostly men but many supporting families, work as so-called artisanal (i.e., independent) miners at those sites.
For decades, an assortment of armed rebels, homegrown gangs and corrupt army units have reigned over parts of eastern Congo, where many people live in poverty despite the rich mineral resources underground. These armed groups are known for terrorizing local residents through pillaging, forced labor and sexual assaults on women and girls.
In recent years, Western activists have pressured corporations to stop using conflict minerals from areas controlled by armed groups, which profit from sales of those metals.
The metals are used in a variety of products. But activists have particularly focused on makers of smartphones, computers and other electronic components, since they use large quantities of tantalum in electrical capacitors and tin as solder for circuit boards, along with smaller amounts of tungsten and gold in various components.
MORE DISCLOSURE
Human rights groups also persuaded the U.S. Congress to address the issue in the 2010 financial reform bill known as the Dodd-Frank Act. One section of the law requires corporations to file annual reports showing what they've done to determine if they're using tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold from Congo or neighboring countries.
Though it's been three years since the reporting requirement took effect, most companies say they're unable to trace all the minerals they use, since metals usually travel through complex supply chains that include mines, regional wholesalers, refiners and independent component-makers.
Companies in some sectors, particularly computer and electronics manufacturers, are providing more information each year, according to researcher Chris Bayer, who reviewed company filings for the nonprofit Development International. But he said nearly two-thirds of the 981 companies from all industries that filed conflict mineral reports this year still didn't identify the country of origin for all the minerals they used that are covered by the law.
Still, activists and academics say the Dodd-Frank requirements have prompted companies to examine supply chains and underwrite audits by industry groups that pressure suppliers to stop buying from illegitimate sources. The audits and a tracking system devised by industry and Congo's government are intended to certify that ore comes from mines free of armed interference.
SILICON VALLEY RIPPLES
Silicon Valley's Intel is one of very few companies to claim conflict-free status for its microprocessors and chipsets, citing audits of smelters in its supply chain. But Intel says it can't be sure about other products it sells that contain components made elsewhere.
Apple, which also requires its smelters to undergo audits, says it has no indication that any of its products contain minerals that benefit armed groups. But while Apple reports more information than most companies, it stops short of declaring its products "conflict-free" and says those audits may not be enough. Apple also does its own investigations, focusing particularly on gold because it's susceptible to smuggling and weak oversight.
Activists don't want U.S. companies to simply stop using minerals from Congo, because that would hurt miners and their families. But some wholesalers have turned to sources elsewhere. And while the number of artisanal miners working in Congo has remained stable, IPIS estimates about 80 percent, or 193,000 workers, are now digging for gold. They produce about 12 tons of gold each year, worth about $437 million when sold at local trading sites.
IPIS found 64 percent of gold miners working at sites controlled by armed groups — only a slight decline from 67 percent in 2010.
CONGOLESE ARMY "TAXES"
More often than not, the gun-toting groups are units of the Congolese army, known as the FARDC. But the soldiers aren't just there to keep the peace. IPIS found evidence that army units interfered with mining operations, usually by collecting unauthorized taxes, at two-thirds of the sites where they were present.
Other sites were under the control of armed militias, including a rebel group notorious for "looting, extortion, killing and sexual violence" in Congo's Ituri district, IPIS reported.
IPIS researcher Ken Matthysen, who co-authored the new report, estimates the vast majority of Congolese gold is exported outside legal channels. He said it's smuggled into neighboring countries to disguise the true source, and then often exported to the United Arab Emirates.
Industry officials say gold is extremely difficult to trace through layers of wholesalers, refiners and other middlemen. They also blame ongoing civil unrest in the DRC.
"But that shouldn't stop us," said David Bouffard, vice president at Signet Jewelers, a leading retailer that says it works with auditors and industry groups to make sure it doesn't use metal from conflict sources. "We have to help as much as we can."
SOME IMPROVEMENTS
Meanwhile, about half the miners digging for tin, tungsten or tantalum ore in the Congo are working at sites covered by an industry inspection system. IPIS found 21 percent of 3T miners at sites under the control of armed groups. That's a big improvement from 57 percent in 2010.
But experts say the "tag and trace" system used for tracking 3T ore isn't perfect. U.N. advisers reported last year that 3T minerals were still being smuggled from Eastern Congo into Rwanda. They also found a black market for altered or counterfeit tags. A separate report by the Enough Project, a human rights group, found Congolese inspectors are poorly paid and susceptible to bribes.
Tantalum mines in eastern Congo are still vulnerable to violence, according to the Enough Project. Its report cited an incident in January 2016 when a group of Congolese soldiers fired on civilian miners in the town of Rubaya, injuring nine people.



Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article110283312.html#storylink=cpy

Congo's Kabila courts regional support as opposition prepares 'red card'

Congo's Kabila courts regional support as opposition prepares 'red card'

25/10/2016

When Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern neighbors took advantage of an outbreak of political turmoil there to invade in 1998, President Laurent Kabila turned to regional powerhouse Angola for help.
Angola's jets pounded Rwandan and Ugandan positions inside Congo and its troops patrolled the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, fearing the installation of a hostile government sympathetic to its own separatists.
This week, Laurent Kabila's son, Joseph, another Congolese president facing upheaval at home, heads to Luanda in search of a helping hand.
Heads of state at Wednesday's Congo-focused regional summit, many of whom have extended their own mandates at home, are likely to back a deal Kabila recently struck with part of the opposition to allow him to stay in power until at least April 2018, beyond his mandate which ends in December.
But analysts say this time Kabila cannot count on unalloyed support from Angola and other allies, especially if its leaders start to see Kabila as the problem, rather than the solution to difficulties in the central African giant.
"Angola prefers a Congo that is weak but stable," said Jason Stearns, director of the Congo Research Group at New York University.
"If the country becomes seriously unstable, Angola might begin to make its criticism of Kabila more public."
The main opposition bloc has denounced this month's accord as a pretext to allow Kabila to cling to power and maneuver to change the constitution – charges the government denies.
More than 50 people were killed last month in demonstrations against the extension of Kabila's term - which the government blames on the logistical problems of organizing a November election - and opposition leaders have vowed to give him a "red card" on Dec. 19, the last day of his term.
The goal of Kabila's trip to Luanda is to win support for the deal, under which a power-sharing government is to be named, his top diplomatic adviser, Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi, said.
The government hopes regional recognition of the accord can help stem growing pressure from the United States and Europe on Kabila to stand down.
Even with that vote of confidence, further turmoil would damage Kabila's image as a guarantor of stability, one diplomat said. The United Nations fears large-scale violence could become "all but inevitable".
With direct Rwandan or Ugandan intervention in Congo now considered unlikely, Angola's main fear is an influx of refugees across its 2,600-km (1,600 mile) border if the political situation gets out of hand.
"I don't think they will want to see one person stay on if that leads to instability," the diplomat said of Angola.
ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
Millions died in the 1998-2003 war that sucked in more than a half-dozen armies, including Zimbabwe and Namibia, which backed Laurent Kabila and then Joseph after his father's murder in 2001.
Since then, a series of foreign-backed insurrections has caused havoc in the east but without threatening Kabila's overall authority.
Kikaya said Kinshasa was not worried about weakening support from its allies but recent visits to Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania suggest Kabila is working hard to shore up regional support.
"He still sees regional alliances as essential in his strategy to extend his time in office - but also possibly to secure personal guarantees in case he is forced out of power," said Vincent Rouget, Congo analyst at Control Risks.
Economic factors could also complicate Kabila's strategy. Relations between Congo and Angola have soured since 2013 due to a dispute over access to offshore oil concessions.
Likewise, South Africa could conclude that Kabila is no longer the best bet to protect its substantial economic interests in Congo.

 Congo agreed in 2013 to sell more than half the power from its future 4,800 megawatt Inga 3 hydroelectric dam to South Africa but development has been sluggish and Congo is now almost certain to miss a 2020 deadline to begin providing electricity.

NOT ABOUT DEMOCRACY
The United States has already imposed targeted sanctions against members of Kabila's inner circle for allegedly violating human rights and blocking elections and the European Union is threatening to follow suit.
Such moves are unlikely to find support among Kabila's neighbors, especially Rwanda and Congo Republic, whose leaders recently pushed through changes to their constitutions to let them stand for third terms.
Instead, realpolitik and the desire for stability are almost certain to trump any idealism about democracy.
"African states don't want to set precedents about interference in domestic affairs," said Stephanie Wolters, an analyst at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Pretoria.
But the support of regional leaders will not be guaranteed forever and if he has any designs on staying around beyond April 2018, Kabila will need to find a much firmer legal basis for his position, the diplomat said.
"They found a legal way to stay on," the diplomat said. "Kabila hasn't."
By Aaron Ross; Editing by Ed Cropley and Giles Elgood
Reuters

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

NEW YORK CONFERENCE REVIEWS CONGO'S BLOODY CALAMITY SINCE 1996 RWANDA/UGANDA INVASION

NEW YORK CONFERENCE REVIEWS CONGO'S BLOODY CALAMITY SINCE 1996 RWANDA/UGANDA INVASION

11/10/2016


Uganda's Gen. Museveni -- he and Rwanda's Gen. Kagame launched war of aggression against Congo

The 20th anniversary of the invasion of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda and the apocalyptic killings unleashed thereafter will be commemorated with an all-day conference, "Breaking the Silence" in New York City on October 15 at ThoughtWorks located in Manhattan at 99 Madison Ave, New York, NY , 10016. 
 
Twenty years ago today, in 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo, which was then known as Zaire. The invasion toppled long-time CIA agent and dictator Mobutu who ran Congo into the ground after he seized power in 1960 from independence hero Patrice Lumumba, who was murdered.
 
Kagame and Museveni installed Laurent Kabila as president. When he tried to exert his independence from his two benefactors Rwanda and Uganda invaded again, this time seeking to topple Kabila and install a pliant puppet.
 
Angola and Zimbabwe intervened and repulsed the invaders who were about to seize Kinshasa, the capital. Rwanda and Uganda ended up occupying mineral rich eastern Congo. That part of the country became the epicenter of: resource plunder; massacres; ethnic displacement; and, mass sexual assaults against women and men so pervasive that Congo became known as the "rape capital of the world."
 
Kabila was assassinated January 16, 2001 under mysterious circumstances and "his son, Joseph Kabila became president".
 
How horrific were the atrocities committed after Rwanda's and Uganda's second invasion? 
 
The United Nations conducted a survey of the cites where the alleged retribution killings occurred and issued what is known as the "Mapping Report"; the U.N. concluded that the killings in eastern Congo, primarily by Rwanda's army, if confirmed by a judicial process, may "constitute crimes of genocide."
 
Rwanda's and Uganda's support for various warring militias including M23 --both countries use the manufactured chaos as cover to steal Congo's resources-- have led to apocalyptic suffering. No one really knows how many Congolese have died; some estimates place the toll at six million. 
 
Congo filed a complaint against Uganda at the International Court of Justice (ICJ); the court in 2005 ruled in Congo's favor and ordered $10 billion in reparations which Uganda has never paid and Joseph Kabila has not attempted to enforce the judgment.
 
The ICC also opened a criminal investigation into alleged crimes by Uganda's army. On June 8, 2006,The Wall Street Journal reported that Gen. Museveni himself urged then U.N. Secretary General Koffi Anan to block the probe. Museveni evidently feared that he too could be indicted, like Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony or the Sudan's Omar Hasan al-Bashir. No wonder lately he's been denouncing the ICC. 
 
Meanwhile Joseph Kabila, who was supposed to step down at the end of this year after completing a second presidential term of office has made it clear he's not leaving. Recently as many as 50 civilians were reported killed by Kabila's security forces after they demonstrated against his bid to derail the fragile democracy process by extending his regime.
 
Kabila is following the examples of other regional dictators like Uganda's Museveni (in power since 1986) and Rwanda's Kagame (ruler since 1994). 
 
Yet the Congolese, led by the youth have remained defiant and protests against Kabila's plan to prolong his regime continued even after the bloody suppression.
 
Can the Congolese people eventually free themselves from the shackles of dictatorship and the suffering caused by multiple invasions and by Kabila? What about people in the other East and Central African countries? What can be done about the destructive U.S. role such as its financial and military support for Kagame and Museveni? 
 
These are some of the questions that human rights activists, scholars, journalists and, survivors of the atrocities will address at this coming Saturday's all-day conference.
 
 
Editor's Note:  The conference is free and open to the public but RSVPs are required. Food will be served.

Black Star News  

Friday, 7 October 2016

DR Congo: Protect Civilians in Beni from Attack

DR Congo: Protect Civilians in Beni from Attack

Nearly 700 Dead Since Massacres Began 2 Years Ago


07/10/2010

Unidentified fighters have killed nearly 700 civilians in a series of massacres that began two years ago in Beni territory in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said today.
Coffins of three people killed on December 1, 2014 in Eringeti,
 around 60 kilometers north of Beni town. A total of six people
 were killed that day. The most recent attack documented
 by Human Rights Watch in Eringeti was on May 3,
 2016, killing 19.


In one of the largest recent attacks, on August 13, 2016, fighters killed at least 40 people and set fire to several homes in the Rwangoma neighborhood in the town of Beni, despite a large presence of Congolese army soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers.
“The Congolese government and UN peacekeepers need a new strategy to protect civilians in Beni and to hold those responsible for attacks to account,” said Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “After two years of brutal killings, many people in Beni live in fear of the next attack and have all but lost hope that anyone can end the carnage.”
Human Rights Watch research and credible reports from Congolese activists and the UN indicate that armed fighters have killed at least 680 civilians in at least 120 attacks in Beni territory since October 2014. Victims and witnesses described brutal attacks in which assailants methodically hacked people to death with axes and machetes or shot them dead. The actual number of victims could be much higher.
It is unclear who is carrying out the attacks. The Congolese government blames one armed group that has been active in the area, while other sources have also implicated other groups and army officers in some of the attacks.
The Human Rights Watch findings are based on five research trips to Beni territory since November 2014, and interviews with over 160 victims and witnesses to attacks, as well as with Congolese army and government officials, UN officials, and others.
A 10-year-old boy said that he had been taken hostage during the Rwangoma attack and witnessed several killings: “Men in military uniform came and took me and my big brother and grandmother. …They tied us up and made us walk with them. Along the way, they started to kill some of us, including my 16-year-old brother. They killed him and some of the others with axes and machetes.”
Congolese army soldiers and UN peacekeepers only deployed to the area after the attack had ended and the assailants had long fled.

Paluku Waitswalo, 65, was attacked by unidentified fighters
 with machetes near Maymoya village in North Kivu province,
 Democratic Republic of Congo on October 6, 2014.

Human Rights Watch documented other incidents in which community members had alerted the army, but it did not respond.
In one case, on July 4, 2016, four local farmers warned the army about the suspicious presence of armed men near the town of Oicha, 30 kilometers north of Beni. The farmers later told Human Rights Watch how an army officer responded: “We have taken all necessary measures to respond to all eventualities. Go home but don’t tell anyone. Don’t scare people for no reason.” The next morning, unidentified fighters fired shots in Oicha. Later, the bodies of nine gunshot victims were found close to two army positions in town.
An army officer based in Oicha told Human Rights Watch that some soldiers were angry when their superior ordered them to leave a nearby position and not engage the assailants as the attack was unfolding.
Senior UN and Congolese army officials have repeatedly asserted that the attacks in Beni territory have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan-led Islamist rebel group that has been in the area since 1996. Human Rights Watch research and findings by the UN Group of Experts on Congo, the New York-based Congo Research Group, and Congolese human rights organizations, however, point to the involvement of other armed groups and certain Congolese army officers in planning and carrying out some of these attacks.
ADF fighters from Uganda and Congo have been responsible for scores of kidnappings, mostly for recruitment or carrying goods in recent years, Human Rights Watch said. Civilians who had earlier been held in ADF camps told Human Rights Watch they saw deaths by crucifixion, executions of those trying to escape, and people with their mouths sewn shut for allegedly lying to their captors. In January 2014, the Congolese army officially opened a new phase of military operations against the ADF with some limited logistical support from the UN Stabilization Mission in Congo, MONUSCO, and its “Intervention Brigade,” a 3,000-member force created in mid-2013 to carry out military operations against armed groups. The series of massacres began several months after the Congolese army pushed the ADF out of their main bases.
The UN Group of Experts found that Brig. Gen. Muhindo Akili Mundos, the Congolese army commander responsible for military operations against the ADF from August 2014 to June 2015, had recruited ADF fighters, former fighters from local armed groups known as Mai Mai, and others to establish a new armed group. This group was implicated in some of the massacres in Beni territory that began in October 2014, according to the Group of Experts.
In a March 2016 report, the Congo Research Group found that certain army elements as well as armed groups other than the ADF might be involved in the massacres.
The forces responsible, chains of command, and motivations behind these attacks remain unclear. Congo’s international partners should support credible government efforts to determine responsibility for the attacks and to improve protection for civilians, Human Rights Watch said.
The body of Jean Pierre Paluku Muvungu,
 38, who was killed by unidentified rebels
 with machetes on October 2, 2014, in
 Mukoko village in North Kivu province,
 Democratic Republic of Congo.

Given the alleged involvement of some Congolese army officers in the massacres, MONUSCO should ensure full respect for the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy when supporting Congolese army operations and withhold all support to units or commanders that may be implicated in the attacks or other serious human rights violations. UN peacekeepers should also improve ties with local communities and immediately deploy to threatened areas.
Human Rights Watch urged the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to collect information to determine whether an ICC investigation into alleged crimes in the Beni area is warranted. The ICC opened an investigation in Congo in June 2004, and has jurisdiction over serious international crimes committed on Congolese territory. The ICC can step in when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute grave crimes in violation of international law.
The frequent massacres in Beni have fueled popular anger at the Congolese government for failing to stop the killings, prompting numerous city-wide shutdowns or “villes mortes” (dead cities), peaceful marches, and some incidents of vigilante violence in the east. Protests against the Beni killings have in some cases been linked to demonstrations against election delays and attempts to extend President Joseph Kabila’s presidency beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ends on December 19. In many cases, government officials and security forces have responded to protests with brutal repression.
“With Congo embroiled in a broader political crisis, the government is less capable of keeping the attacks in Beni from spiraling out of control,” Sawyer said. “Sustained, high-level international attention is needed now to help end the killings in Beni and to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the attacks.”
Human Rights Watch

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Deja vu in Congo as President Kabila clings to power

Deja vu in Congo as President Kabila clings to power

03/10/2016


Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko shed a tear as he delivered a speech in April 1990 promising his people an end to one-party rule and a future without the man they knew as the Guide.
"Understand my emotion," he said, his distinctive, deep voice cracking.
In the seven years that followed, the military dictator acted on few of his promises and Zaire sank into chaos, leading to his overthrow in 1997 and helping trigger a series of conflicts that would kill millions of people.
A quarter of a century after Mobutu's speech, there is a sense of deja vu as the fate of democracy hangs in the balance and fears of civil war grow in Africa's largest copper producer, now known as Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Joseph Kabila has failed to confirm he will step aside after serving two terms, the constitutional maximum. And the head of the election commission said on Saturday that he expects polls due next month will be delayed until December 2018 for logistical reasons.
"Congo is a great country with enormous economic and human potential, but it's on the brink of civil war ... because there is a president who is there and wants to stay put," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said last Wednesday.
Protests against Kabila, 45, led to clashes with security forces last month in which the United Nations said at least 50 people were killed in the capital Kinshasa.
People are also restless over the state of the economy. Although it has big reserves of gold, cobalt, diamonds, tin and coltan, which is used in laptops and mobile phones, the vast country has been hit by the fall in global commodity prices.
Barnabe Kikaya, Kabila's chief diplomatic adviser, told Reuters the president was committed to democracy.
Referring to the bloodshed that marred previous transfers of power, Kikaya said: "It has always been bloody ... We have to break the spell. Elections are the only peaceful way."
But Kabila has continued to avoid making an explicit commitment not to run again and opponents accuse him of seeking to extend his rule beyond the end of his mandate in December.
Some compare his tactics to those of Mobutu, who used force and deft political maneuvering to try to cling to power.
"Mobutu was shedding crocodile tears (when he delivered the 1990 speech). The reality for him was how to regain the upper hand and stay in power," said Mbwebwe Kabamba, an opposition politician in Kinshasa.
"There are many similarities to what's happening now," he said.
NATIONAL DIALOGUE
Kabila took power in 2001 after the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, an ex-rebel who had forced out Mobutu. Joseph Kabila won elections in 2006 and 2011, but both were marred by violence.
Even as security forces battled protesters last month, Kabila's allies were holding negotiations with representatives of civil society and some members of the opposition as part of a process known as the Inclusive National Dialogue.
Announcing the talks a year ago, Kabila said the goal was to relaunch the electoral process -- his supporters have said the election timetable is no longer realistic.
But much of the opposition has boycotted the talks over concerns the real aim is to enable Kabila to stay in power by delaying elections or installing a power-sharing government.
Some draw comparisons with the Sovereign National Conference, a public forum involving a large number of political groups which Mobutu organized in the 1990s.
The conference was meant to elaborate a road map for Zaire's transition to a multi-party system. But Mobutu manipulated the talks to delay elections and play his rivals off against each other with promises of government posts.
A draft agreement distributed among participants last month set no date for elections but included a provision maintaining Kabila in power while creating a government of national unity headed by an opposition prime minister -- a signature Mobutu tactic.
"It is obvious that Kabila is creating a margin to maneuver," said Pierre Lumbi, a former Kabila advisor turned opposition figure who participated in the conference under Mobutu but is boycotting the talks under way now.
"The president hasn't yet said: 'Listen, I'm not going to run'," Lumbi said. "If he said it, that would solve the problem."
In a setback to Kabila's hopes of securing a deal, the country's influential Catholic Church has suspended its participation in the dialogue since last month's protests.
Any agreement would lack legitimacy anyway because the two main opposition blocs have stayed out of the negotiations.
Jason Stearns, author of "Dancing in the Glory of Monsters", a chronicle of Congo's post-Mobutu collapse, believes this may signal an end to a long tradition of deal cutting among the political elite.
"For now, I think the main drama is going to play out on the streets of Kinshasa," he said. "Increasingly, members of the opposition are not interested in bargaining."
WESTERN PATIENCE RUNNING OUT
Western governments supported Mobutu almost to the end, fearing the vacuum his departure would create. But it was his refusal to go that led Uganda and Rwanda to organize rebels to overthrow him, an act that set the stage for a conflict that would draw in half a dozen neighboring countries.
The international community wants to avoid a repeat of history, and patience with Kabila is running out quickly.
On Wednesday, the United States imposed financial sanctions on two top figures in Kabila's security apparatus - Generals John Numbi and Gabriel Amisi Kumba.
The economy in the former Belgian colony of more than 80 million people is also a growing concern for Kabila. The central bank raised the main interest rate last week from 2 to 7 percent to try to contain inflation.
The government cut its 2016 budget in June by 22 percent because of falling revenues from the mining and oil sectors, which account for about 95 percent of export earnings. It has also cut its growth estimate from 9 to 4.3 percent.
As an opposition politician, Kabamba has little faith that Kabila will go quietly.
But the surgeon who struggled through the difficult final years under Mobutu, including two devastating rounds of army looting and a civil war, remains hopeful.
"He still has time to say 'I'm finished. Now someone else take over.' He would go down in Congolese history as an emblematic figure," Kabamba said.
By Joe Bavier 
Reuters