Congo Siasa is back, just in time for the new UN Group of Experts’ report.
It’s a great report, chock full of useful information on the situation in the Kivus, and I’ll have an exclusive interview with members of the Group here in a few days. For now, some of the highlights of the 190 page document:
- Even though the Group’s mandate is to focus on non-governmental armed groups – in the past the CNDP and FDLR have been centerstage – a main concern in the this report is the Congolese army itself. The Group argues that the Congolese army has pushed many rebels out of mining areas, but has then itself become complicit in “criminal networks” that often collaborate with rebel groups in running violent protection rackets. The Group points out that President Kabila himself denounces “this kind of mafia.” Dozens of cases of these criminal networks are documented in the report.
- While military operations have whittled away at the FDLR, reducing them from 5,800 to 3,500 in three years, the Group says that the rebels’ “command and control structure remains largely intact.”Only a few leading FDLR officers have been demobilized, and the Group is now busy crafting alliances with many smaller Congolese groups, such as Mai-Mai Cheka, APCLS and FRF. In response to the military pressure, FDLR have dispersed into smaller formations and many have been pushed out of mining areas. This has boosted demobilization stats from 50 per month in 2008 to 134 per month in 2010 and prompted FDLR to increasingly recruit Congolese.
- According to the Group, the Burundian FNL leader Agathon Rwasa fled to the Congo following election in mid-2010. He benefited from the complicity of Congolese army commanders, Burundian businessmen and other opposition parties, and has been able to recruit 700 soldiers based in South Kivu province.
- The report provides detailed information on CNDP integration – or lack thereof – into the national army. They document three well-armed battalions in Masisi territory that have not been integrated, although they point out that CNDP taxes in the territory have significantly decreased since an agreement between the CNDP and the government was reached in July. The CNDP also tightened its control over mining areas in Walikale during the presidential ban on mineral exports – the Group suggests that Gen. Bosco Ntaganda controls three quarters of all command posts in Walikale, leading some non-CNDP troops to flee the area. The Group also documents serious internal tensions within the CNDP that have led to a spate of killings, often linked to Gen Bosco Ntaganda. Controversially, the Group suggests that exiled Rwandan Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa may have been in touch with CNDP (and perhaps even the FDLR) in the Kivus.
- Perhaps most significantly, the Group has proposed a rigorous due diligence process for international companies involved in the minerals trade. The Security Council had asked the Group to develop standards, and the five person group (aided by a consultant, Greg Mthembu-Salter) came up with a long list of requirements that dovetails nicely with what the OECD is coming up with. Go to page 83 to find the requirements – the Group has proposed two standards, one just targeting rebel groups, the other including “criminal networks” that include the Congolese army. The Group reportedly told the Security Council that they strongly prefer the latter standard, and the Council has reacted positively to this.
Anyway, I strongly recommend reading the report in its entirety – it gives the best idea of what is going on in the Kivus of any report I have read this year.