It was a bit anti-climactic when, two days ago in the steamy lakeside town of Baraka (South Kivu), the rebel leader Yakutumba Amuli officially ended his insurgency and joined the Congolese army. After years of being in the headlines (at least, the MONUC internal report ones), he only pitched up with 57 soldiers and around 10 weapons. The rest of his “brigade” either doesn’t exist or is part of the 50-100 soldiers who are turning themselves in at other Congolese army bases (the fact that they didn’t join his majestic ceremony probably means he doesn’t really control them much.) Can a bunch of bandits with some AK-47s really become such a threat to the Congolese army? This is not the first time we have seen such a storm in a tea cup- when 47 Banyamulenge “invaded” South Kivu from Burundi in 2005 with a dozen weapons and a sat phone, it was seen as a major destabilization of the province (some of them are still hanging out in the High Plateau).
His integration was briefly cast into doubt after brief skirmishes between Bembe Mai-Mai (belonging to him?) and the Congolese army. The Mai-Mai had been angered when Banyamulenge herders violated a previous agreement, under which they would only graze 80 cattle on Bembe land in the Fizi area. When the locals counted 200 cows, the Mai-Mai accused the Banyamulenge of a gross violation of their deal and opened fire on the Congolese army, who had intervened on the behalf of the Banyamulenge. Three Congolese soldiers died.
Unsurprisingly, Yakutumba, who was last a captain when he was in the Congolese army in 2005/6, has asked for the rank of Major General. He also declared that his “movement” would transform itself into the Parti d’action pour la reconstruction du Congo (PARC). Previously, Yakutumba had been allied to Bembe leaders such as Anzuluni Bembe (former head of national assembly under Mobutu).
Welcome to the Conglese army, general.