Update on the Congo


Author’s note:  This article originally composed 25 Jul 2006, some revision done on 25 April 2008.  It is forbidden to reproduce or distribute any of the photos taken by the author without the author’s permission.

Elections.

The obvious story is the historic presidential elections in the Congo, the first since the elections held after independence that saw Patrice Lumumba win the Prime Minister position.  Kinshasa itself is now a city covered in banners and election signs.    People walk the streets with tee-shirts of the many different candidates.  Trucks packed with activists shouting political slogans drive through the streets and, in cities like Bukavu, recorded messages can be heard blaring out from a distance, sometimes playing all night.

 The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) manages the elections.  The election is funded by donations to the APEC fund controlled by the UNDP or by donating directly to the Congolese government.  As of this writing, the European Commission is the largest donor to APEC with Belgium (135 million Euros) and the Netherlands (12 million Euros) donating the most.  The biggest donors directly to the Congolese Government are the United States and France1.

 In my conversations with the Congolese about the elections, several things were apparent.  One is that many people, all across the Congo, have no idea who many of the candidates are.  One experience I remember well occurred in Kinshasa shortly after I arrived, before the official campaigning began on July 1st.  The World Cup matches were being played and there were small scorecards being passed out around the city.  On the back of these scorecards was the likeness of presidential candidate Dr. Oscar Kashala.  When I asked people about Kashala, many of them knew him only as, "The American."  It is true that Dr. Kashala was trained as a medical doctor at Harvard.  He is also known for the arrest of several of his bodyguards who where accused of plotting a coup.  Dr. Kashala employed bodyguards from the South African firm Omega Security and also from Florida-based AQMI.  Some people working for the Congolese press, as well as one worker for the Independent Electoral Commission that I spoke to; believe the idea of the coup plot was made up by the Congolese government in an attempt to discredit Kashala.  The same source working for the Independent Electoral Commission also told me that Kashala is very organized and has already chosen his cabinet. 

 It is feasible that the current Congolese Government does not want an American influenced politician in power.  One well-informed source from civil society told me that President Kabila has begun withdrawing politically from the United States and has begun reestablishing political ties with Belgium, China, and France.  

This is somewhat reminiscent of the political moves his father Laurent Kabila made in 1997 when the United States refused to pressure Rwanda to withdraw its troops from Congo.  Kabila visited China and lauded their socialist economic model.  He then began revoking mining concessions he had allocated to American firms like American Mineral Fields Inc. (now Adastra) and the Canadian company Banro, which he had given out before he even began his march to Kinshasa in 1996 as a way to generate funds and international support for the war.  Kabila then turned many of the concessions over to Zimbabwe in exchange for their military help defending against the Rwandans and Ugandans when the 2nd Congo War broke out in 1998.  It was the beginning of a series of decisions that led, in part, to his murder in 2001.

 Another thing apparent to me is the hostility towards presidential candidates Azarias Ruberwa and Jean-Pierre Bemba.  According to a number Congolese I spoke to in the capital, both are seen as proxies for the neighboring nations of Rwanda and Uganda respectively.  Some even claim Mr. Ruberwa is running illegally because he is not a naturally born Congolese citizen.  He is a Rwandan Tutsi refugee who fled to Lubumbashi to start a new life.  He enrolled in the University of Lubumbashi and became a lawyer.  He is currently the Vice President in charge of the security portfolio.  However, this could easily be propaganda as well because bringing a candidate’s ethincity into question is a commonly used tactic. 

When dissident former FARDC soldier, Manyamulenge, and wanted war criminal (by the ICC) General Laurent Nkundabatware illegally seized the city of Bukavu in 2004 and his soldiers committed numerous rapes and murders, he told MONUC he would only stop his assault if Mr. Ruberwa ordered him to.  After, FARDC General Mbuza Mabe planned an assault that would capture or kill Nkundabatware and his men.  Mr. Ruberwa then called for the removal of Gen. Mabe, which was eventually granted.

Mr. Ruberwa is currently allied with North Kivu’s Hutu Governor Eugene Serufuli of the Rwanda-created Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) party (of which Mr. Ruberwa is the head) and Bizima Karaha, another reputed Rwandan refugee, is the current Minster of Foreign Affairs and a former rebel fighter in the RCD.  This triad of politicians is seen by the Congolese as consolidating Rwandan control over the Congo for their own purposes.

Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba is also currently a transitional Vice President and he is in charge of the finance and economic portfolio.  Congolese writer and editor Antoine Roger Lokongo of the Congo Panorama made a keen observation when he wrote that it is peculiar how Mr. Bemba managed to have $22 million for his campaign, yet he could not manage to pay the demobilized FARDC soldiers2, which has caused many of them to take up looting and extortion in the east of the country and in Katanga Province, leading to rampant human rights abuses which were chronicled in a recent report released by MONUC3.  During recent rallies in the Congo, Mr. Bemba has openly said he will wage war if there is any evidence of election fraud.

Mr. Bemba is himself a demobilized soldier.  He was the leader of the Movment for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) rebel group that was active in the Ituri region and around the town of Beni during the war of 1998.  Bemba is accused of war crimes for ordering the MLC’s infamous operation, "Effaceur le Tableau," which is French for, "Erase the Board," where he ordered the genocide of pygmies in the Beni area.  The MLC stands accused of cannibalism and other heinous acts during this operation.  The MLC itself is closely aligned and armed by Uganda.  This isn’t surprising because Congolese sources state that Bemba is Museveni’s godson. 

Mr. Bemba and his father are from the Equateur Province. In particular, Mr. Bemba has strong support in the Gbadolite area where arms caches belonging to Mr. Bemba were recently discovered in the church of Reverend Kuthino Fernando.  Mr. Bemba’s father is the head of the ENRA logging company located in Ituri.  He received numerous business breaks from Joseph Mobutu during his reign over Zaire.  Mr. Bemba used this to illegally log the forests of Ituri and transport the logs to Uganda via the highway running through Ariwara and Aru.4

The Frontrunner.

One thing that seems fairly certain is that Joseph Kabila will eventually win the presidency.  Everywhere I traveled in Congo, most people supported him.  The Congolese I spoke to genuinely seemed to want him as the man to lead them into the future.  However, it will be his decisions immediately after taking oath that will define the future of the Congo.  When Mr. Bemba and Mr. Ruberwa are voted out, their respective backers will pressure President Kabila to appoint them to cabinet positions in exchange for prevention of all-out war in the east of Congo.  As I will demonstrate later in this article, the mechanisms for creating a full-scale war are already in place and can be activated at virtually any time.  If President Kabila does appoint them, many Congolese people will recognize it as a sell-out to accomodate his former rebel adversaries and he may lose popular support.  It may also trigger a preemptive attack on Rwandans and Banyamulenge in Congo, which would itself trigger all-out war with the reprisal killings that would follow.

Dissident.

 The Union for Democratic and Social Progress (UPDS) and its long time leader Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi have boycotted the elections.  They conduct marches in Kinshasa that have been destructive to property, but usually don’t lead to violence against soldiers or police.  The situation in the east is more dangerous.  There have been reports of greater political oppression of demonstrations there, and earlier the week of this writing, 2 people were killed in protests near Rutshuru in North Kivu.  FARDC soldiers in southern Katanga Province were reported by a Congolese source to have engaged in the beating of RCD supporters recently.

UPDS protesters burn opposition campaign posters in Kinshasa on July 19th.
Photo by David Barouski.

 

UPDS party members march in Kinshasa to protest the elections on July 19th, 2007.
Photo by David Barouski.

Security Situation in Ituri.

The Front for Nationalist Integration (FNI), who fought with the FARDC for control of the gold-mining areas around Mongbwalu and Watsa for most of last year, has finally given up.  This group, led by Peter Karim, a Ugandan ally, was responsible for the murder of Nepalese MONUC soldier Adhikari Cyan Bahadur on May 28th of this year. 

MONUC’s Nepalese and Moroccan battalions, along with the FARDC, spent the end of 2005 up to now systematically pushing the FNI eastward.  They used gunships to force them out of Tchei and fought them up the road towards Fataki and Mahagi.  A MONUC military official stated that Karim’s main arms supply was being shipped from Uganda across Lake Albert.  After pushing the FNI into the woods around Fataki, the arms supply was cut off and MONUC established regular boat patrols on the lake with the FARDC.

Just a few days ago, cut off from their arms supply with their backs nearing the Ugandan border, Karim and a large number of his men agreed to demobilize and surrender.  Karim will become a colonel in the FARDC through MONUC’s demobilization program (DDRRR).  This decision has angered many Congolese who want him prosecuted for his crimes against civilians. 

Along with the end of the FNI leadership, MONUC’s DDRRR demobilization program and the civilian government program CONADER located in Bunia have been reported to be quite a success.  The removal of the majority of the rebels from the main road that runs parallel to Lake Albert has helped secure the main towns in Ituri for elections.  Operations against the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (MRC) and the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU) in Ituri and the area just north of Beni around the Virunga National forest crippled the capabilities of these militias to envoke terror against the population.

All is not as it seems in Ituri though.  The area north of the main road from Bunia to Fataki is insecure.  MONUC seems only concerned about securing the main cities like Bunia and Aru at this point.  There is also logistical difficulty in securing the area because of how remote and forested it is. 

 When the FNI left the area, Mr. Bemba’s MLC milita reportedly moved in to take their place.  There are still 2,000 MLC in Ituri that are armed and refuse to demobilize.  They are in control near the gold centers of Mongbwalu and Watsa, which serves to facilitate Uganda’s continued plunder of gold from the Congo.  The MLC stand accused of rapes, beatings, and extortion on the road from Isiro to Watsa.5  One MONUC worker in the area stated that elements of the FARDC, led by General Songol, and the MLC are constantly fighting for control over these areas and civilians are caught in the crossfire. 

MONUC and the FARDC do currently have a presence in Mongbwalu, and MONUC has even established flights to Mongbwalu.  Anglo-Gold Ashanti, which is mining gold in and around the city, also flies its workers to the site daily.  North and east of Mongbwalu up to Aru though, MONUC has no established presence.

Farther north, from Ariwara along the Sudanese boarder to Garamba National Park, a mass of rebel activity goes unaddressed by MONUC and the FARDC.  In January of this year, when reports of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters entering Garamba were common, MONUC sent a team of Guatemalan soldiers to investigate, which led to the death of 8 of them.  Following that incident, MONUC called off the Garamba operation and has left the place virtually alone since though MONUC sources have stated an offensive in Garamba is planned if the LRA don’t leave.6  Currently, the LRA’s leader Joseph Kony is engaged in peace talks with the Ugandan government from Juba in southern Sudan.

Former Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) fighters are all over the area in the woods near Ariwara and in Garamba.  A source inside MONUC told me how the former SPLA fighters are known to tax, loot, and rape the locals.  There are also Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers in the area to deliver arms to the MLC soldiers and also guard the trucks transporting timber along the roads near Garamba down through Ariwara and Aru to Mahagi port for shipping as well as maintain the gold smuggling routes.  In April of this year, the FARDC engaged in a firefight with UPDF soldiers in Aba, while chief spokesperson for MONUC’s press Kemal Saiki stated that reports of the UPDF presence in Congo were credible.7   A Congolese source also explained that Rwandan soldiers who are working in south Sudan for the African Union (AU) as part of its Darfur peacekeeping mission have been entering Congo from Sudan to exploit the land.  This is especially troubling when United States Ambassador Michael Arietti stated that the US was providing training and transport for the RPA troops in Sudan and Rwanda has been increasing its number of troops in Sudan recently8.  Sources stated Rwandan, Ugandan, and Sudanese fighters constantly fight in the area over control of the resources.  To make things even more difficult, the last members of the FNI, ADF/NALU, Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), MRC, and other small militia groups have put aside their grievances and joined together to create a single army to attack MONUC, but there are questions about the leadership capabilities of the remaining militia9.  The majority of the ADF/NALU laid down their arms to MONUC and the FARDC 2 days ago.

 Ituri has seen perhaps the worst of the violence of the war because it is so rich in natural resources.  Anglo-Gold Ashanti is still actively mining in Mongbwalu.  North of Mongbwalu, where it is less stable, most companies don’t actively mine, but they do come and check on their concessions every few months.  A source in Aru told me that "white executives" from Barrick Gold, an international mining company that once had George H.W. Bush on its International Advisory Board, were seen at their Watsa concessions 5 months ago. 

Along Lake Albert, Heritage Oil is actively prospecting for oil.  On the board of directors is Tony Buckingham, a former Special Services officer in Britain.  In the Congo, he is best known for lobbying the Executive Outcomes mercenary company to unstable governments during the 1990s before the firm closed.  Mr. Buckingham’s good friend and fellow SAS soldier, Simon Mann, who was arrested in Zimbabwe for organizing a coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, is a close friend of Executive Outcomes’ founder Eeben Barlow10.  In 1996, during Laurent Kabila’s AFDL and the Rwandan Patriotic Army’s (RPA) rush to Kinshasa to unseat Joseph Mobutu, Executive Outcomes was hired to provide air support for the soldiers.  One Congolese source who survived the 1996 war said their gunships were stationed on the hills behind Mugunga camp as well as over Lake Kivu.  They would shell the camps at night in an attempt to kill Hutu refugees who had run away from Rwanda following the genocide and clear the way for advancing Rwandan and AFDL troops. 

 A source in Congo told me that Heritage currently hires UPDF, RPA, and MLC soldiers to protect their concessions from rebels and dissident FARDC soldiers.  Another source who works in the oil industry told me that Heritage has very poor drilling techniques and are lucky if they strike oil making them hazardous to the local environment.  Sources in Congo have also said that, in years past, Heritage has influenced much of the fighting in Ituri.

Security Situation in North Kivu.

 Whenever I talked about elections in the east with the Congolese, one subject always came up: security.  When asked about the biggest security threat to Congo, the decision is unanimous.  General Laurent Nkundabatware and his dissident group of former FARDC and RDC soldiers from the 8th battalion are the greatest threat.  Ever since he fled Bukavu in 2004 after defecting from the FARDC, he has been allowed to stay in Congo unmolested.  When President Kabila visited Goma for his campaign the last week of June, the people of the city begged him to remove Gen. Nkundabatware’s men from the area.

Currently, Gen. Nkundabatware is living in the Masisi Province, just down the road from Sake and Goma.  The village of Masisi is currently inhabited by Banyamulenge and Tutsis who moved from Rwanda to farm on this fertile land.  Many of the Congolese living in the area have been forced out by the Rwandans to take their land.  Nkundabatware and 1,000 men are in the area to provide security for the people.  Gen. Nkundabatware himself moves freely around a small area in the vicinity, often traveling to visit his children in the nearby village of Kitchanga11. 

 The situation in the area is very grave.  One MONUC source told me they purposely don’t report publicly what is going on in that region of Congo for security reasons.  Several MONUC workers and soldiers I spoke to all said that it is more than lootings and an occasional rape on the road to Masisi.  Many of these "lesser" crimes can be attributed to unpaid FARDC soldiers in the area.  They claim the killing of civilians isn’t uncommon, and Gen. Nkundabatware’s men are reportedly responsible.  One source even told me that, very recently, a bus with about 21 people on board carrying an unknown number of foreign nationals was stopped at gunpoint on the road to Masisi and all the passengers were taken hostage by his men.  As of this writing, no sign of them has been seen or heard.  At the same time, a separate well-informed source with MONUC denied knowledge of the report.  

A source in Congo also stated Gen. Nkundabatware has his own private militias that operate in the area independent of his command.  There are also reports of Governor Serufuli’s Local Defense Forces operating to destabilize the area around Goma as well.  Couple that with allegations from the Congolese that Gov. Serufuli’s Non-Governmental Organization "All for Peace and Development" has been arming these groups and MONUC and the FARDC have a difficult situation to control12.

MONUC has a MILOBS intelligence team living in the village with him.  They watch his every move and report back to the headquarters.  They know everything he has done.  MONUC also set up some mobile bases in nearby Sake in June. 

MONUC has a Chapter 7 mandate and could legally intervene to stop his troops when they kill or loot but they don’t.  When I asked MONUC officials and one MONUC soldier who is stationed in Masisi about this, they replied there were several reasons.  One reason is because it could start an all out war before the elections.  As MONUC restricts Gen. Nkundabatware and his men, his soldiers simply leave their uniforms and blend in with civilians and vanish, making it nearly impossible to stop his army completely.  They then would begin recruiting new forces and would return.  MONUC continually stressed that this would make elections impossible as no one in the area could vote because of the violence.  MONUC officials have emphatically told me that the UN won’t do anything that could jeopardize the elections.  This effectively makes all the civilian lives Gen. Nkundabatware’s men take between now and the elections expendable as the price of having enough stability to hold the elections on July 30th.

Conducting operations against Gen. Nkundabatware would also create a massive influx of internally displaced people that the UN is unprepared to deal with as well as reprisal killings.  This represents another set of problems.  As one Congolese man told me, "If Nkunda attacks Congo; the Congolese will kill all the Tutsis and Banyamulenge in Congo."13  

 Another reason given by MONUC is that it is the FARDC’s responsibility to disarm them and it is certainly true that the FARDC has made no move to do so.  This is problematic because, in the past when MONUC has conducted large scale operations to uproot a specific rebel group, they have been joint operations between MONUC and the FARDC.  In fact, the FARDC does the brunt of the ground work and MONUC provides support when the FARDC asks for it or they are in imminent danger. 

Another other problem occurs when such an operation is proposed.  MONUC must first draw up a proposal for the operation, including all costs.  Then members of the Security Council must supply the funds for the operation voluntarily.  In the case of Gen. Nkundabatware and his former RCD soldiers, it is noteworthy that they represent the interests of Rwanda, and a source in MONUC confirmed to me that Rwanda directly aids Gen. Nkundabatware.  So if the Security Council members don’t want to impede the interests of Rwanda, they won’t fund any proposed operations against Gen. Nkundabatware.  A MONUC worker told me that the United States, a staunch supporter of Rwanda, has always been MONUC’s largest donor.  The United States will never fund action against him.  In fact, the United States is building a new embassy in Kigali.  It will be the largest embassy in Africa and will include a signal intelligence interception station that will reach all the way to Saudi Arabia and the old embassy complex will permanently house United States Marines in the region.14  It is also important to note that MONUC’s Operation Falcon Sweep was designed to uproot the anti-Rwandan FDLR group while the MRC and ADF/NALU, who were targeted earlier this year, are both anti-Ugandan.  Both of these countries are supported by the United States, who funded the operations against their opposing milita.  The only pro-Uganda rebel to be targeted by MONUC is Peter Karim.

Gen. Nkundabatware and his men have an ambitious plan in place to set up and execute a new war to consolidate Rwanda’s power in the region.  Currently, his men and members of the RPA are infiltrating the 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th brigades of the FARDC to join sympathizers already undercover who will mutiny and join Gen. Nkundabatware on his order.  The 2nd Brigade already has a large number of demobilized ex-RCD soldiers loyal to him.  Once infiltration is completed, the commanders of the brigades will limit the amount of arms shipped to all the brigades except for the 2nd so the FARDC is unequipped to provide defense in the event of an attack.  Gen. Nkundabatware has also been busy recruiting child soldiers in Masisi Territory since the end of 2005, as well as recruiting FARDC soldiers to bolster his numbers of troops.  The 83rd Brigade was actively recruiting children by force for Gen. Nkundabatware15.  Sources also state that there are about 1,000 dissident soldiers of the 10th FARDC Brigade under the command of a Tutsi named Mr. Rugayi from Rutshuru that are waiting Gen. Nkundabatware’s orders.  These soldiers are based in Mobambiro.  Sources in the area also state that Gen. Nkundabatware has an extensive intelligence system in place including local politicians, FARDC officers, and help from Kigali and Kinyarwanda speakers in Goma, which are said to comprise 40% of the population.  Gen. Nkundabatware himself has training in military intelligence and served as an intelligence officer in the RCD.16

Sources in the Congo have stated that arms caches for Gen. Nkundabatware are already well established.  Sources say he has received a shipment of arms and hi-tech satellite communications equipment from Rwanda that was sent through Gisenyi and Kibumba.  A MONUC official also confirmed that arms for Gen. Nkundabatware are being shipped through Uvira via Bujumbura Airport in Burundi.  Sources also state that in May, RPA soldiers in FARDC uniforms crossed into Congo through Kibumba to join a battalion of RCD-G soldiers led by a Major Eshima.  Another source states that RPA officials were seen handing arms to ex-RCD soldiers in Fizi and Minembwe territories in January and May of this year.

     
      General Laurent Nkundabatware.
         
         
      
      Security Situation in South Kivu.

The focus of the security situation in South Kivu remains the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), the last remnants of the so-called genocidares: Hutus who fled Rwanda that are accused of committing genocide.

Last year, MONUC and the FARDC conducted Operation Falcon Sweep to try to stop the FDLR soldiers and the remaining Mai-Mai combatants who where hiding out in the Kahuzi-Biega National Forest.  These groups would come out of the forests to loot and rape the surrounding villages when their supplies ran out.  Several sources living in the area state the operation was a failure because all it did was push the majority of the soldiers deeper into the forest and didn’t actually demobilize many of them.  One of those sources stated there are still 5,000 to 8,000 FDLR left in South Kivu, along with Mai-Mai who refused to demobilize.  The Congolese are currently lobbying MONUC and the FARDC to push the FDLR back into Rwanda.

The remaining FDLR members are reportedly the offspring of the so-called Interhammwe who fled Rwanda in 1994.  They are an violent group because they have grown up in the bush and don’t know anything but conflict.  They have no way to support themselves or their families in the bush.  They continue to be a menace to the villages in and near the Kahuzi-Biega Forest.  They are notorious for rape.  One center for rape victims in Bukavu that I visited had a group of rape victims of the FDLR the day I was there.  There were about 12 women and most of them were under 18 years old with the youngest I estimated at about 12 years old. 

 The hidden story in South Kivu is the story of the so-called Rastas.  This is reportedly another Hutu milita but they are rarely reported on by MONUC.  It is publicly said to be a splinter group of the FDLR and has the same agenda.  The Rastas committed particularly gristly acts in June and July of 2004, when they killed, maimed and raped dozens of civilians in the Walungu area.  They currently are located in the Kahuzi-Biega National Forest and in Ndinja, and commit most of their crimes in Kaniola, where they kidnapped 2 people recently. 

A secret is the true identity of the Rastas.  Sources living in the area swear that the Rastas were created when Rwandan President Paul Kagame released Hutu prisoners from Kigali on the condition that they act as proxy Interhamwe back in 2001.  The purpose was two-fold.  First, the murder of civilians by these Hutu gave President Kagame a pretext to send RPA soldiers into Congo in order to neutralize the "genocidares."  Second, it allows Rwanda to illegally mine the land after the villagers flee the carnage.  Witnesses in Congo say when the RPA entered Congo to search for the Rastas, instead of looking in the forests, they looked in the mines.  The Rastas also have been reported to have helped mine the area for Rwanda as well.  The village of Walikale has diamonds and casserite.  The village of Tubimbi  recently become a hotspot for mining gold.  The village of Numbi, where sources say Rwanda had a crematorium to burn the bodies of Hutu refugees they killed in 2001, also has casserite and small niobium deposits.  President Kagame reportedly uses the money from selling the imported minerals to pay his soldiers and upgrade their equipment.  It is also important to note the proximity of these cities to the area General Nkundabatware fled to following his occupation of Bukavu in 2004.  One MONUC soldier stationed in Bukavu during the siege told me outright that Gen. Nkundabatware took Bukavu to loot the casserite in the area.

Security in Katanga Province.

Katanga has made progress in providing security.  It was just last year that MONUC decided to first deploy a force to aid the FARDC in Katanga.  They have launched operations against the Mai-Mai in the province, which were terrorizing the population.  Recently, Mai-Mai leader Gideon and most of his soldiers laid down arms and joined the demobilization process.  Like with Peter Karim, many Congolese are angered by MONUC because they want Gideon to be held accountable for his crimes, not promoted and given a post in the FARDC.

 The FARDC in the area, however, continue to have a notorious reputation for human rights abuses.  Reports by human rights groups, and MONUC itself, chronicled these abuses17.

 One of the greatest security threats are the uranium mines near the Zambian border.  A MONUC soldier told me that there are several U.S. firms expressing interest in the right to mine the area.  Another Congolese source states that the African Mining and Exploration Company (CAMEC) and its partner Billy Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean with a long history of looting the Congo, are close to a deal with the government.  A MONUC soldier said that MONUC has soldiers guarding the area, but the number is kept deliberately small in order to reduce the possibility of any wayward MONUC soldiers from selling some on the black market.  Recently, there has been evidence of some artesian miners extracting uranium ore18. 

Meanwhile, the mining business in Katanga continues to boom.  Anvil Mining and First Quantum Minerals, who just bought out Adastra for a huge copper concession, are already actively mining in the area.  Notables on the board of directors are CEO Phillip Pascall, a director of Anvil Mining, Director Rupert Pennant-Rea, an editor at The Economist and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and Director Andrew Adams, who used to work for Anglo-American.  Other active firms are South Africa’s Metorex, U.S. based Om Group, Tenke, the American firm Phelps Dodge, and BHP Billiton. 

Also active is Anvil Mining, which was accused of providing vehicles and transporting soldiers by air.  The FARDC went went to stop a civilian uprising in Kilwa, a town relatively near to Anvil’s mining operations.  More than 100 people where killed by the FARDC during the raid.

The George Forrest International Group, which had its beginnings in the Belgian Congo in 1922, may be the biggest beneficiary of mining in the province.  Mr. George Forrest, who was once on the board of directors of Gecamines, a state-owned mining entity, has entered into several joint ventures with Gecamines in Katanga.  A legal analysis of some of the Congo’s contracts by lawyer Fasken Martineau DuMoulin revealed one joint project with Mr. Forrest’s Kinross Gold (now Katanga Mining Limited) and Gecamines that was approved by President Kabila in August of 2005 gives Forrest, Mr. Arthur Ditto, the former Vice Chairman of Kinross Gold (and former Bechtel engineer), and Kinross shareholders almost complete control over the Kamoto Copper Company which mines copper in Kolwezi.  Notables on the Katanga Mining Ltd. team are Mr. Rene Nolevaux, another former director of Gecamines and former General Manager of the Congo’s other state-owned mining entity, MIBA, Mr. Allan Schoening, a former senior human resources worker at Barrick Gold and Caterpillar, and Mr. Bret Richards, a former human resources Vice President at Group 4 Securicor, a "security for hire" firm that has a branch in Kinshasa.

The contracts are set up so that Gecamines, aka the state, receives virtually no money from the project in the long term and they collect a very small percentage of taxes.  Kabila apparently knew this yet signed off on the deal anyway.19  These agreements were also approved by the World Bank, which has encouraged the privatization of Gecamines since Laurent Kabila began the process in 1997 as a way to pay for his wars.  Recent contracts given to Forrest’s companies by Kabila award nearly 70km of land around the towns of Mweka, Luebo, Njoko, Punda and Tshikapa.  In order to mine this area properly, an untold number of residents in this area would need to be relocated.  Forrest’s companies were among those named in the UN’s imfamous report on companies involved in the looting of the Congo.20

 Another contract under scrutiny is the contract of Dan Gertler’s Global Enterprise Corporation (GEC), a joint copper venture in Kananga and Tilwezembe between Mr. Gertler’s DGI company and Gecamines to create DCP SARL.21  GEC is owned by Nikanor PLC, which just went public on the London Alternative Investment Market Stock Exchange to raise money for the GEC venture.  Currently, banking giant JP Morgan Cazenov is in charge of selling the shares.22  Mr. Gertler is an Israeli who opened his DGI company (Emaxon) as a diamond miner, purchaser and polisher.  Mr. Gertler himself is the Honorary Consul of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Israel.23  In 2000, as head of the International Diamond Industries company, Mr. Gertler recived diamond consessions from Laurent Kabila, reportedly in exchange for helping set up an Israeli military team that would help train the Congolese army through retired General Yosi Ben-Hanan, Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, and Mr. Yossi Kamisa, a former Israeli policeman in the Anti-Terrorist unit.  Mr. Kamisa also claimed that Mr. Gertler bribed Congolese Government officials and Angolan Army generals who were protecting Kinshasa at the time and were close to President Kabila.24 The mining concessions were revoked in April of 2001. Mr. Gertler then formed his own DGI company and Joseph Kabila, knowing Mr. Gertler’s reputed reputation, decided to give Mr. Gertler lucrative diamond concessions anyway.25

If you found this information useful, please consider donating via Paypal to [email protected].  All donations will be used to fund further trips to Africa to conduct more research.  Without your support, works like this aren’t possible.  Thank you.  Please also direct all comments and further information to [email protected].

1 "DRC: What it is Necessary to Know: The Support to the Electoral Process in Number," Digital Congo (English Version).   July 15, 2006.  http://www.digitalcongo.net/article/35518.

2 http://www.congopanorama.info/.  July 21, 2006.

3 "Special Investigation into Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in the Territory of Mitwaba, Katanga Province 13-19 February 2006," MONUC Human Rights Division.  July 6, 2006.

4 Private Interview, Kinshasa.  June 2006.

5 "Isiro: Former Rebel Soldiers Responsible for Extortion and Violence," MONUC Press Release.  October 7, 2005.  http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=8632.

6 "Congo to Attack Kony in Garamba," The New Vision.  July 25, 2006.  http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=11890.

7 "UPDF Tanks Sighted in Congo," Frank Nyakairu & Agencies.  The Daily Monitor.  May 1, 2006.  http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200605010638.html.

8 "US to Help Rwanda Get Rid of Militias,"  Steven Baguma & Agencies.  The New Times.  October 11, 2005.  http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200510120201.html.

9 Private Correspondence.  July 2006.

10 "Making a Killing," Madeline Drohan.  Lyons Press, Guilford, CT USA.  2003.  pgs. 206-212.

11 Private Interview.  June 2006.

12 UN Security Council Press Release SC/8546 1 Nov. 2005.  http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/sc8546.doc.htm.

13 Private Interview.  July 2006.

14 Private Interview.  June 2006.

15 "Amnesty International: Alarming Resurgence in Recruitment of Children in North Kivu,"  Amnesty International.  Press Release.  March 31, 2006.

16 "Congo’s Elections: Making or Breaking the Peace,"  International Crisis Group.  Africa Report N108-27.  April 2006.

17 "Special Investigative Mission Into Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in the Territory of Mitwaba, Katanga Province, February 13-19 2006,"  MONUC Human Rights Division.  06 July 2006.

18 "Illegal uranium mining at shuttered Congo site – UN,"  Reuters.  July, 21, 2006.  http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=11843.

19. "Kinross Gold and Katanga Mining: Part of the Pillage of the Democratic Republic of the Congo?"  MiningWatch Newsletter.  April 8, 2006.  http://www.miningwatch.ca/index.php?/newsletter_21/kamoto_jv.

20.  United Nations Security Council Report to the Secretary General.  October 23, 2003.  Document Number S/2003/1027.

21. "Congo Squanders Its Crown Jewels," John Vandaele.  Mondiaal Magazine.  March 31, 2006.  http://www.mo.be/article.aspx?ed_id=0&a_id=431&type=homepage.

22. "Nikanor Announces the Offer Public Price by Ordinary Shares,"  Digital Congo (English Translation).  July 13, 2006.  http://www.digitalcongo.net/article/35479.

23. "DGI Group of Companies," DGI Company Website.  Accessed March 7, 2006.  http://dgi-group.com/Corporate_1.html.

24. "Top Israelis Accused of Illegal Diamond Deals,"  Yitzak Danon.  February 18, 2004.  http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press269.htm.

25. "Congo Cancels Israeli Diamond Supply,"  Ellen Knickmeyer.  Associated Press.  April 21, 2001.

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