Saturday, July 20, 2013

Protesters in eastern Congo criticize UN for voicing concern over reports of rights abuses

Good People,

This is the opportunity for President Kabila of Congo to put all efforts to work hardest to drive off M23 out of Congo.

The UN Mission must stop but and if, all that they must do is support Congo to be free from the illegal attacks, invasion and occupation of M23 in Congo. UN cannot play dilly dallying on support for the Congo Government attack on Tutsis M23. UN must understand that the rightful place for M23 is NOT in the Congo. Bosco’s idea to form Tutsis M23 terror gang had support from Kagame and Museveni and therefore, Boscos’ being in ICC Hague is enough proof of eating the pudding. For peace to prevail in Congo, M23 must leave Congo and go back to Rwanda.

Congo has Democratic rights supported by the International Treaty for Human Rights to be freed and live a stable, dignified and honorable lifestyle away from outside intimidation and interferences so they are safe to engage in peaceful development agendas to progress their economic advancements for prosperity.

UN must stop sympathizing with M23 in order to defeat and defuse Congo Government from pounding on M23. M23 must be forced out of Congo back to Rwanda.

The reaction from Kagame and Museveni on the defeat of the M23 is proving reaction from UN Ban-Ki-Moon for being biased on Congo success. Because of this, all people of the world must stand with the people of Congo and condemn UNs mixed reaction on Congo invasion by M23. This is throwing bad light on what UN Ban-Ki-moon is capable of doing for Africa in terms of rights policy for Africa.

Question in the mind of many people remain, “for how long should Congo endure extermination, pain and suffering in the watch of the UN and the world?”..........If Congo was a European Nation, would this have happened to them??? If Congo was all Whites, would they have been innocently killed and raped with their livelihood destroyed and minerals plundered for free and taken away by force without proper referendum collaboration with clear understanding in laid down agreement stating fair Trading share of "Give and Take".....??

Why should Black people be ganged against like dangerous criminals and denied rights and are treated like lesser human beings.........where, even their Natural mineral wealth seems like Blacks have no right to share fairly and benefit from, which is the reason for creating Rwandese Tutsi M23 to stage war in Congo......

Shall we sit and watch M23 invasion on Congo sparked by engineered selfish greed of conspiracies for looting and stealing Congo's mineral under an organized terror group of Tutsi M23 gangs without petitioning for intervention? Shouldn’t our US President Obama intervene to engage the world to do something to help Congo people when UN is meandering and playing a roller-coster ping-pong biasness on Congo??? Should we be silent like nothing is happening in Congo???

Is this how we shall gain favor and achieve Peace in the world and Unity for common good of all, when Africans are rotting away wasted by the greedy rich and powerful ??? Is this a fair justice???

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson &
Executive Director for
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa

Protesters in eastern Congo criticize UN for voicing concern over reports of rights abuses

By Nick Long, The Associated PressJuly 19, 2013

Protesters in eastern Congo criticize UN for voicing concern over reports of rights abuses

Residents supporting Congo's army gather to protest against President Joseph Kabila and the United Nations mission in Congo for a perceived lack of support in the fight against M23 rebels, in Goma, Congo, Thursday, July 18, 2013. The M23 rebels, who seized Goma last November but eventually withdrew, now seem to be heavily outgunned by the army, which pounded their positions with helicopters, tanks and artillery.(AP Photo/Alain Wandimoyi)


Residents supporting Congo's army gather to protest against President Joseph Kabila and the United Nations mission in Congo for a perceived lack of support in the fight against M23 rebels, in Goma, Congo, Thursday, July 18, 2013. The M23 rebels, who seized Goma last November but eventually withdrew, now seem to be heavily outgunned by the army, which pounded their positions with helicopters, tanks and artillery.(AP Photo/Alain Wandimoyi)

GOMA, Congo - About 200 demonstrators marched toward a United Nations base in eastern Congo on Friday to protest a statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing concern over alleged rights abuses committed by the military.
Carrying placards with slogans including "The UN is mocking us" and "Let our armed forces do their job," the marchers were dispersed by police before reaching the base, which is the headquarters for the U.N.'s 19,000-strong MONUSCO peacekeeping mission.
The protesters were angry about a statement issued by Ban on Wednesday amid fresh fighting between the military and the M23 rebel group, said Serge Sivya, a spokesman for the group.
The statement said Ban was "deeply concerned" over reports Congolese soldiers were desecrating rebel corpses, and that the U.N. peacekeeping mission was reviewing its support for army units suspected of being involved. Congo's government announced Thursday that a deputy commander had been arrested over his alleged role in the practice.
"We are protesting that the U.N. is asking for our troops to be put on trial, and we think they are targeting commanders who have shown their prowess in battle," Sivya said.
The same demonstrators took to the streets earlier in the week, before Ban's statement was issued, protesting a decision by the government to halt apparently successful military operations against the rebels north of Goma. Those protests were broken up by police firing tear gas and live ammunition into the air.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission was heavily criticized last year for standing by when the M23 rebels swept into Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, having routed government forces. The rebels withdrew in return for peace talks, which have repeatedly stalled.
In fresh fighting that began Sunday, the Congolese army pushed the rebels back and, according to the government, inflicted heavy casualties. The area around Goma fell quiet Thursday after four days of heavy fighting.
Civil society representative Nestor Bauma said he believed Ban had a right to express concern about rights abuses. "But he should not forget the realities on the ground. If people think the U.N. is trying to block an army advance you can imagine what can happen," he said.
A Congolese army officer, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the army condemned the desecration of corpses but said the perpetrators' "combat stress" should be taken into account.

DRC troops battle M23 rebels

July 16 2013 at 06:18pm
By Phil Moore

m23 rebels
File photo: M23 rebel fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Related Stories
Goma, DR Congo / North Kivu - The Congolese army on Tuesday battled M23 rebels in the country's volatile east, a day after at least 130 people were killed in the deadliest clashes in months.
Army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli said Democratic Republic of Congo forces were gaining ground in the battle close to the North Kivu capital Goma, as they sought to “wipe out M23”, a movement launched in April last year by Tutsi defectors from the army.
The United Nations has warned its troops in the flashpoint city of Goma Ä which include a recently-deployed offensive brigade Ä
were on high alert and ready to intervene in case of attack.
Goma Ä which was occupied by M23 for 10 days late last year before the rebels withdrew under international pressure Ä lies in a region rich in minerals including gold and coltan, a key component in cell phones and other electronic equipment.
The commander of M23 operations in the area, Colonel Youssouf Boneza, told AFP by telephone that “M23 is holding its positions in spite of heavy shelling”.
An AFP photographer in Kanyarucinya, a town 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Goma, reported a heavy army presence, but no clashes. However, he heard two rocket explosions to the north.
Both the army spokesman and residents in the region reported a lull in fighting and heavy weapons fire by late Tuesday afternoon.
Each side has accused the other of starting the fighting on Sunday, and the government has revived an allegation that M23 is receiving support from Rwandan troops in the heaviest clashes in months.
“For several weeks the M23 rebels and their Rwandan allies have been reinforcing their positions,” said government spokesman Lambert Mende on Monday. Neighbouring Rwanda strongly reject all charges of support for M23.
“Our forces have inflicted very heavy losses on the M23
fighters, 120 have been killed and 12 captured,” for the loss of 10 government soldiers, Mende said.
Casualty figures could not be independently verified. The army was keeping journalists away from the battle zone and M23 has so far issued no toll.
In March, the UN Security Council decided to boost the UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) with an offensive brigade of 3 000 men who were given an unprecedented mandate to neutralise and disarm rebel groups operating in eastern DR Congo.
MONUSCO “has put its troops on high alert and stands ready to take any necessary measures, including the use of lethal force, to protect civilians,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky announced in New York.
“The mission says that any attempt by the M23 to advance toward Goma will be considered a direct threat to civilians,” he said, adding that the rebels had reinforced their positions around the city with heavy artillery and an armoured car.
About two-thirds of the new force, which comprises troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania, have arrived. It is expected to be active within the next few weeks.
Late Monday, Rwanda's army spokesman, General Joseph Nzabamwita, accused the Congolese army and UN forces of shelling two Rwandan border villages in what he called “a provocative and deliberate act by FARDC and MONUSCO”.
Neither the Congolese army nor the UN mission were available to comment on the allegation. - Sapa-AFP

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rumour Has It: The Importance of Gossip in the Battle for Goma

With fighting between the Congolese army and M23 heating up, the Goma rumour mill is causing trouble for the UN and President Kabila.
Article | 19 July 2013 - 5:18pm | By Joseph Kay

Motorcyclists follow Colonel Mamadou yelling encouragement. Photograph by Joseph Kay.

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo:

The conflict between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army (FARDC) near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province in the country's troubled east, has intensified since 14 July. The struggle is being fought on two battlefields: with heavy weaponry around the deserted town of Kanyarucina, 14 km north of Goma, and in North Kivu's rumour mills. The heavy fire of the FARDC in the former is troubling the M23, whilst barbed words and unsubstantiated claims are putting the UN Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in the firing line.
Yesterday, Thursday 18 July, protests in Goma against MONUSCO led police to use tear gas and fire warning shots. Foreign NGOs advised their staff to stay inside their compounds and MONUSCO's Pakistani contingent prepared to increase patrols or even intervene.

Rumour chasing

Colonel Ndala Mamadou, the operational commander of the FARDC’s latest campaign, paraded through Goma as a hero on Thursday morning. Passers-by and motorbike taxi drivers (so called motards) escorted his camouflaged Land Cruiser pick-up with mounted machine gun through the centre of the town. Crowds cheered Mamadou’s name as he inspected a lorry being filled with fuel for the troops at the front and visited the Command Centre of the 802nd Infantry Regiment in Goma.
Four days into the renewed fighting, in which over 100 rebels have reportedly been killed, Mamadou is clearly adored by the citizens of Goma. Friendly, with a big toothy smile, he is a likeable character and on Thursday he was elevated to quasi-sainthood in the popular imagination of this lava-covered city. His popularity was explained by a woman in the crowd making menacing throat cutting gestures. The Colonel, she thinks, is the man to cut the M23's throat.
Support for Mamadou only appears to be matched by deep hostility towards MONUSCO. When following the Colonel around town for an interview, this was made clear. First, outside a hospital, the aggression towards MONUSCO hit me on the leg in the form of a stone thrown by a soldier's wife. Then, my ears were buffeted with insults in Swahili and Lingala – two of DRC’s four national languages. My motorbike driver, in Swahili, and I, in poor Lingala, were forced to protest to an advancing mass of angry women and children that I was not from MONUSCO. Eventually, the woman who threw the stone smiled at me apologetically and the hatred was converted into a desire to help my reporting.

Radio trottoire

Back on the trail of the Colonel, following him out of town on the road to the airport, we discovered what the rumour of the day was: The colonel had been called to Kinshasa and was to be redeployed to Kisangani.
Rumours are rife in the DRC. In 2010, Kinshasa Chegues (street kids) proudly mocked my smartphone and explained that radio trottoire (the pavement radio that spreads gossip and rumour by word of mouth) was “faster than the internet”. In Goma, eager-eyed adolescents recounted Elvis-style rumours about Michael Jackson’s death, implicating the CIA and claiming that the King of Pop was living in Lubumbashi and about to release a new single. Recent rumours, however, have had more serious implications.
As this new rumour spread, chants of “don’t go!” and “he won’t go!” wafted through billowing clouds of dust as the Land Cruiser and its cavalcade sped along the unfinished road towards the airport...and then continued past it. Rumours are that easily disproven. Mamadou wasn't off to Kinshasa and that should have been the end of it.
But it wasn't. The very idea that the central government might block FARDC's victory under Mamadou was enough to sustain anger – one banner read “Mamadou reste et Kabila part. RIP Kabila” (Mamadou stays [in Goma] and Kabila leaves. RIP Kabila). The chanting continued and became a carnival protest as the motards could no longer follow Mamadou as he sped through police barriers towards the front line.
The atmosphere and language used by people in Goma is of battle and all out victory. For many, it is MONUSCO that stands in the way. One young man protesting told Think Africa Press that “If Colonel Mamdaou leaves, we will attack all MONUSCO property”. Other angry protesters insisted that their man could defeat the M23 but MONUSCO won't let him.

Fighting talk

The motard’s party at the barrier was broken up by the need to get back to earning a living and the calming words of National Police Commander of the District of Nyragonga, Jean-Marie Malosa. Having successfully cooled the motards off and shifted them from his patch, he said that he was pleased to see that “the population is behind the army”. An obvious lesson from this episode is precisely that: the population supports the army and morale is high. As I bumped around in the back of a military truck on its way to the front line through the eerily silent town of Kanyaruchina to meet the Colonel, the motards were busy on another patch.
News of the protests had reached the forward base where soldiers were taking a rest from front line duties and eating. The population’s reaction to the rumours seemed to flatter the Colonel. With a smile, he told Think Africa Press that they were not true. His mobile phone rang incessantly and between negotiating with the representatives of a private company in Goma to supply rations and water to troops, he gave orders to spread the word that he had not been called to Kinshasa.

Over-paid, over-sexed and over here

There are many frustrations with the UN in Goma. In November 2012, MONUSCO did not protect the city from the M23 who went on to hold it for ten days. Residents remember MONUSCO soldiers standing by as the M23 rolled into the provincial capital and then looted government offices and a hospital.
Not only do locals feel MONUSCO does not protect them, but there is a perception that members of MONUSCO are over-paid, over-sexed and over here. Whilst controversy in the past has led to tougher rules to reduce sex scandals, MONUSCO staff are still widely considered to be over-paid.
Speaking to motards over the last week, the perception is that Goma is awash with money. Not just from international humanitarian aid agencies, UN staff salaries and the service economy that springs up around these, but also in the supply of goods and services by local businesses to the charity sector. However, residents believe that this money fails to trickle down to them. “Expats are here to make money and take it back home”, said one street vendor.
The UN hopes this mistrust will decrease once the newly formed Intervention Brigade comes to full strength next month. Formed by South Africans, Malawians, and Tanzanians, the Brigade – which is explicitly mandated to use force in combating destabilising militia – is currently deployed in Sake in North Kivu. Logistics equipment arrived in Goma on Monday and proceeded to Sake overnight.

Winning the street round

Rumours spread like wildfire and Goma is a tinderbox. Once a rumour takes hold it is hard to shake it off. The dispersed motards, despite Colonel Mamadou heading towards the front and not to the airport, still clung to the idea that their saviour was being sent away. And somehow MONUSCO was to blame.
On Thursday afternoon, Mamadou together with Lambert Mende, the government’s spokesperson in Kinshasa, and Colonel Amuli, FARDC’s spokesperson in Goma, called for calm and a stop to the protests against the MONUSCO on Radio Okapi. All three claimed that the rumours are a tactic by the M23 to destabilise the city.
However, the battle to dominate the discourse is not only taking place through radio trottoire. There are constant skirmishes occurring online too. From twitter to blogs, information and misinformation is playing an important role in manipulating perceptions of the state of play in North Kivu. Blatant inventions on Twitter abound from the various accounts peddling false reports of the position of M23 fighters which have appeared every day since Monday alongside other rumours. With the situation so volatile and unreliable information so prevalent, perhaps it is a blessing that so few people have access to the internet in DRC.
Even when the Intervention Brigade arrive and alleviate some of the hatred towards MONUSCO, the motards will not be entirely satisfied. They will still have their own particular gripe because UN staff and aid workers are not allowed to use their service on security grounds. In the future, winning over the influential radio trottoire will remain as tough a challenge, as taking on the M23.
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Congo army helicopters pound M23 rebels near Goma

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 7:59 a.m. CDT
Congolese government army FARDC soldiers walk towards the frontline where they are fighting against M23 rebels outside the eastern Congolese
Congolese government army FARDC soldiers walk towards the frontline where they are fighting against M23 rebels outside the eastern Congolese
By Chrispin Mvano
MUTAHO, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Congolese government forces supported by helicopters attacked M23 rebel positions near the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday in a third day of heavy fighting that has forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes and raised tensions with Rwanda.
The clashes have also focused attention on the role of the United Nations, which is deploying a new force with a mandate to attack rebel groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The 3,000-strong Intervention Brigade, made up of South African, Tanzania and Malawian troops, has begun patrols but not yet engaged in combat.
The United Nations has warned it would block any attack on Goma, a city of one million people bordering Rwanda, which was briefly captured by rebels in November.
A Reuters reporter in Mutaho, some 7 km (4 miles) northeast of Goma, saw three army attack helicopters bombard rebel positions in the town of Kibati, 4 km further north of Goma.
"The situation is under control," army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli told Reuters in Mutaho. "We were attacked on Sunday and our troops are pushing the enemy forces back."
Rebels and government troops traded mortar fire on Monday close to the northern and western outskirts of Goma. The United Nations said that a shell fell on Tuesday 100 meters (yards) from Goma airport, with no victims reported.
"This recurrence of fighting close to inhabited areas poses a serious protection issue for thousands of people and could trigger some drastic humanitarian consequences," said Moustapha Soumare, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Congo.
Millions of people have died from violence, disease and hunger since the 1990s as foreign-backed rebel groups have fought for control of eastern Congo's rich deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and uranium, destabilizing the Great Lakes region at the heart of Africa.
Kinshasa repeated claims on Monday that Rwanda was directly backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels. A U.N. report said the group recruits in Rwanda with the aid of sympathetic military officers.
Kigali, which has in the past backed insurgents in Congo, denies any support for M23. It accused Kinshasa and U.N. troops on Monday of "provocative and deliberate" shelling of its territory, though it said no-one was wounded.
The 17,000-strong U.N. force in Congo (MONUSCO), the world's largest peacekeeping mission, has been deployed for more than a decade but has failed to stem a conflict in which millions have died from violence, hunger and disease since the 1990s.
The arrival of the Intervention Brigade has raised hopes of peace. The World Bank is offering $1 billion to regional governments to promote development if they respect a U.N.-brokered February deal not to back rebels in mineral-rich eastern Congo.
Peace talks between the Congolese government and M23 in Kampala, the capital of neighboring Uganda, have stalled.
With the United Nations saying it would intervene with "lethal force" to protect civilians, the Congolese army has encouraged people displaced by the fighting to return home.
Underscoring the challenge of pacifying eastern Congo, MONUSCO said on Monday that one of its patrols had been ambushed by Ugandan ADF rebels near the town of Beni, some 250 km (150 miles) to the north of Goma.
Two U.N. vehicles were damaged in the attack which was fought off by Nepalese and Jordanian peacekeepers on their way to investigate reports of rights abuses by the ADF.
The Red Cross estimates that 66,000 Congolese have refugees fled into Uganda since Thursday after attacks by the ADF, an Islamist group which Kampala says is allied to elements of Somalia's al Shabaab movement, an al Qaeda-linked group.
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Conflict in the Kivus: UN Report Leaves Peace Process in Uncertain Position

A leaked United Nations report accusing Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23 may undermine regional peace talks.
Article | 25 October 2012 - 4:11pm | By Risdel Kasasira

A Congolese army camp set up to protect Goma from the M23. Photograph by Sylvain Liechti/UN Photo.

Kampala, Uganda:

In a UN report leaked last week, Rwanda and Uganda were accused of supporting the M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The findings have since become the subject of a diplomatic row and with Uganda’s credibility as a mediator threatened, the fate of regional peace talks has become highly uncertain.
In the damning 44-page report, the UN panel of experts accuse Uganda of providing intelligence and political guidance to the rebels, and Rwanda of directly commanding the militants. The findings were reportedly corroborated by a number of intelligence agents, and will likely serve as the basis of sanctions for an arms embargo.
Rwanda and Uganda vehemently deny the allegations, however, with the Rwandan ambassador to Uganda, Major General Frank Mugambage, describing the report as malicious and baseless, and Ugandan army spokesperson, Colonel Felix Kulayigye, telling Think Africa Press Uganda would not benefit from an “unstable neighbour”. Both countries are now preparing to write a protest note to the UN Security Council to which Rwanda was recently elected unopposed to a non-permanent seat.

Allegations, surprising and familiar

The M23 rebellion emerged in April 2012, made up of mutineers from the Congolese army. It is believed the group is made up of soldiers previously part of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a rebel group that was incorporated into the national army in 2009 as part of peace deal. Accusing the government of reneging on the March 23 peace treaty, however, former CNDP elements broke away to form M23.
According to the leaked UN report, M23 is being controlled by former Congolese general Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, while Sultani Makenga is in charge of operations and coordination with allied armed groups. Both Ntaganda and Makenga, however, are said to "receive direct military orders from RDF (Rwandan army) Chief of Defence staff General Charles Kayonga, who in turn acts on instructions from Minister of Defence General James Kabarebe”, while Uganda provides political and intelligence support.
The motivations for Rwandan and Ugandan involvement can only be speculated but one concern of Kigali’s and Kampala’s in the region is the continued presence of rebels groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces, a group opposed to the Ugandan government, and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of former genocidaires opposed to the government in Rwanda.
Findings implicating Rwanda are not surprising as similar accusations arose in a UN report in May. But Uganda, which has been mediating talks between M23 and Congolese government, finds itself in unfamiliar territory with allegations that may undermine its credibility as a neutral arbiter.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has already met four times in the past four months, most recently in Kampala, to find ways to end the fighting in north Kivu – presided over by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. Now, Uganda’s ability to maintain the trust of the DRC government, as well as that of neighbouring countries who have indicated a willingness to contribute troops to a peacekeeping effort, may have been severely weakened.

Pushing for peace?

It is uncertain what will happen at subsequent regional talks regarding the conflict. But Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem insisted that in spite of the report, Kampala is continuing to push for peace.
“Uganda, as the chair of ICGLR and a neighbour to the DRC, remains fully committed to spearhead the regional efforts to ensure security and stability in the eastern DRC as mandated by the ICGLR heads of state and government,” he said. “I would urge the M23 to remain calm and collected because the peace process is still ongoing. Let them cease fire as President Museveni told them.”
It is quite possible, however, that declining trust in the process could lead fighting to recommence. On October 20, leaders of the M23 accused Kinshasa of showing unwillingness to talk and threatened to resume hostilities after fighting was suspended in August for talks.
M23’s Bishop Runninga Lugerero said: “We were requested by President Museveni to cease fighting for peace talks but Kabila does not want direct talks with us. We want dialogue to ensure peace not war. But if President Kabila refuses to talk, we shall have no option but fight on.”
Whether this statement was a genuine reflection of the reality or not, if the brief lull in hostilities ends, the region’s population will be thrown into day-to-day uncertainty and instability once more.
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