DR Congo Digest – 2014 09

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SEPT 2014

POLITICS | ARMED CONFLICT | ECONOMY / MINING /NATURAL RESOURCES | SOCIETY

SUMMARY. President Joseph Kabila is exploring avenues for remaining in office beyond his second term. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression took a hit as opposition leader and Member of Parliament Jean-Bertrand Ewanga is arrested, and 61 newspapers are banned (perhaps temporarily).

In partnership with the UN peacekeepers, the Congolese Army is making progress on disarming and demobilizing rebels in the east Congo, with a top priority on putting an end to the FDLR Rwandan Hutu rebel group. The Ebola outbreak in the northwest is hampering exports of minerals and imports of food and other necessities. [PDF version of full Digest]

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POLITICS

Congolese coup-plotters, possibly including President Kabila’s half-brother, appear in South Africa court

A group of Congolese men appeared in court in South Africa on charges of plotting to overthrow the Government of the DR Congo and assassinate Congo President Joseph Kabila. The 20 men had been arrested in South Africa in February. Their leader, Etienne Kabila, claims to be President Joseph Kabila’s half-brother. (FULL ARTICLE | The Citizen. Aug 8 2014)

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DR Congo President seeks means to remain in office after his second term ends

President Joseph Kabila is half way through his second term in office and appears to be laying the ground work to continue as President after his current mandate expires in January 2017—even though the Constitution not only places a two-term limit on a president, but also specifically stipulates that the two-term limit cannot be changed. (FULL ARTICLE | Pragmora. Aug 2014)

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Member of Parliament and opposition leader, Jean-Bertrand Ewanga, is arrested

Security forces arrest Jean-Bertrand Ewanga in Kinshasa after his participation in a public rally to voice opposition to any constitutional change that would extension President Kabila’s term in office. Ewanga is charged with personally insulting the President in public by calling him a “thief” and a “killer.” At the time of the arrest, President Kabila was in Washington DC attending the U.S.-Africa summit. (FULL ARTICLE | Bloomberg. Aug 14 2014)

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The Supreme Court will re-try the 2010 case the murder of human rights activist, Floribert Chebeya

Earlier trials were denounced as being biased and riddled with ‘irregularities.’ Four police officers have already been found guilty of the murder. Civil activists are calling for the former Chief of Police to be tried for this murder. (FULL ARTICLE  News24. Aug 30 2014)


Minister of Information bans 61 newspapers

The Ministry of Information has banned 61 newspapers on the grounds that they have no legal existence. The decree does not make clear whether not the Ministry will accept notification of proper registration and permit the newspapers to continue to publish. (FULL ARTICLE | AllAfrica.com. Aug 25 2014)

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DR Congo war crimes trial of Egangela ‘a test case of justice’

Lt Col Bedi Mobuli Egangela is being tried in the Congolese military justice system for war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed between 2005 and 2006. Many view this as a test case as the Congolese military traditionally treats high ranking officers with leniency. The trial is expected to continue into September. (FULL ARTICLE | BBC. Aug 14 2014)

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ARMED CONFLICT

United Nations gives the FDLR rebels an ultimatum

For 20 years, the Rwandan FDLR rebels have been committing atrocities against villagers in eastern Congo. (The FDLR was founded by Hutu leaders of the genocide in Rwanda.) The head of the UN Mission in the DR Congo has given the FDLR 22-days to surrender. Martin Kobler explains this is his top priority “…not so much because of their military capacity, but because of what they represent and the destabilising effect that they have with regard to relations with Rwanda.” (FULL ARTICLE | Voice of America. Aug 7 2014)

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Inter-ethnic violence in Katanga province targets Pygmies

Local fighter groups of the Baluba tribe are systematically killing Pygmies in what a confidential UN report has apparently characterized as an attempted “extermination.” (FULL ARTICLE | France24. Aug 19 2014)


Women and children rescued from the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Ugandan Army reports that it has rescued 45 women and children from Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northeastern Congo. The LRA kidnaps locals to serve as fighters, porters, and sexual slaves. (FULL ARTICLE | Al Jazeera. Aug 13 2013)

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ECONOMY / MINING /NATURAL RESOURCES

Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group in running to develop the $100 billion Inga Dam Hydro project

South Africa has approved a treaty with the DR Congo to begin development of the $100 billion Inga River hydropower project. Among the three consortia in contention to serve as the project’s developer is Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. in partnership with Posco and Daewoo Corp. of South Korea. (FULL ARTICLE | BloombergAug 21 2014)

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A substantial new oil find on the Congo side of Lake Albert

The Oil of DRCongo company owned by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler reports it has discovered around 3 billion barrels of oil on the Congolese side of Lake Albert. It is not yet clear what proportion is recoverable. Oil of DRCongo said production of 50,000 barrels per day at Lake Albert would expand Congo’s economy by 25%. (FULL ARTICLE | Reuters Africa. Aug 8 2014)

Due to Ebola fears, export of copper from the Congo comes to a halt

FULL ARTICLE | Wall Street Journal Since August 25, the day Ebola was confirmed in the DR Congo, Botswana has blocked the passage of trucks exporting copper and cobalt from the Katanga region of the DR Congo on route to South Africa, affecting such mining giants as Glencore and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. Trucks from the DRC have also been halted in Zambia. (Aug 28 2014)


SOCIETY

Deaths from the Ebola virus are confirmed in the DRC

The Congo’s Ministry of Health confirms that 13 people in the northwestern region of the country have died from the Ebola virus. According to the World Health Organization this is a different strain of the Ebola virus from the one in West African countries. This is the DR Congo’s seventh outbreak of Ebola since 1976. (FULL ARTICLE | LA Times. Aug 27 2014)

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In Winnipeg, Congo refugee sisters make humanitarian music videos

In 2002, the four Bahati sisters and their family fled the war in eastern Congo and became refugees in neighbouring Uganda. In 2012, they moved again and made Winnipeg home. The sisters have are using their musical talents to create humanitarian music videos and have launched a campaign, “That Could Be Me,” to help victims of sexually violence and children who cannot go to school because of war in the Congo (FULL ARTICLE | UNCHR. Aug 25 2014)

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Crispin MvanosqINTERVIEW with Crispin Mvano, Investigative Journalist & Researcher

FULL INTERVIEW | Sept 1, 2014

Crispin Mvano is an investigative journalist and researcher. With expertise in security-related issues, Crispin possesses an unparalleled depth of current knowledge about the myriad of illegal armed groups that operate in eastern Congo.

Crispin is also an Accredited Mediator for the disarmament and repatriation of members of the Rwanda FDLR rebel group that operates in eastern Congo, Coordinator of Africa Justice and Peace, and is a founding member and coordinator of the orphanage Amani Bweremana in Masisi.

Originally from Masisi, Crispin now lives with his family in Goma. He is conversant in French, English, Swahili, Lingala, Mashi, Kihunde, and Kinyarwanda.

READ THE INTERVIEW