Tuesday, 28th March 2023

Central Africa

Articles related to Central Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has killed 14 people, including two traditional chiefs, since Friday by alleged militiamen from a rival tribe, an administrative official said on Monday.

The chief of the village of Kimpasi, in the Kisia-Ngasi grouping, was killed in his residence by assailants from Kwamouth," Amedeo Bangambuma, administrator of the Bagata territory in Kwilu province, told AFP on Monday.

In this grouping (group of villages) of Kisia-Ngasi, "twelve villagers were killed in a farm on Friday by assailants (...). The chief of the grouping who came to inquire about the situation was also killed," he added, indicating that all the victims were members of the Teke community and were killed with machetes. 

The Kisia-Ngasi grouping is in a remote area. There are no security forces on site and the nearest police station is about 100 km away, Mr Bangambuma said.

He said the perpetrators of the killings were militiamen from "Kwamouth territory, on the other side of the river, who come to attack Teke people in Bagata territory" in neighbouring Kwilu province.

The Kwamouth territory is located in the province of Maï-Ndombe, which has been plagued by communal violence that started last June over a land dispute between the Teke, who consider themselves to be the originators and owners of villages along the Congo River for a distance of about 200 kilometres, and the Yaka, who came to settle after them.

The violence, which later spread to Kwilu province, left at least 180 people dead last year, according to the Kinshasa government. The United Nations has put the number of displaced people driven from their villages by the conflict at tens of thousands, some of whom have taken refuge in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.

After a lull, violence resumed earlier this month when at least 15 people were killed in an attack on two villages by armed men. Hundreds of Teke have fled their villages and abandoned their fields, according to reports.

"The Teke are living in a climate of great panic, they are afraid of being killed at any moment," said administrator Bangambuma.

-Africa News

A reshuffle of the government was announced overnight from Thursday to Friday in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), now in office Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde but redesigning the ministerial team nine months before the next presidential election.

Among the new heavyweights of the government is, at Defense, the former vice-president (2003-2006) Jean-Pierre Bemba. Former warlord, Mr Bemba had been sentenced to 18 years in prison by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in the Central African Republic before being acquitted on appeal in 2018, after ten years of imprisonment.

He was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, as the DRC, which has been struggling with armed violence for nearly 30 years in its eastern part, experiences a spike in tension with its neighbor Rwanda, accused of supporting the rebellion. of the "M23" which has occupied large parts of the province of North Kivu since last year. 

Another comeback, Vital Kamerhe, former chief of staff of President Félix Tshisekedi, sentenced in 2020 to 20 years in prison for embezzlement before being acquitted on appeal in 2022, is appointed to the Economy, also in the rank of Deputy Prime Minister.

A reshuffle had been presented as imminent for three months, after the resignation at the end of December of three ministers who were members of the party of businessman Moïse Katumbi, candidate for the next presidential election, who had left the government in solidarity with their political movement in rupture. with the ruling coalition.

The presidency warned early Thursday evening of an "important communication" to come before a spokesperson for Felix Tshisekedi appeared on national television after midnight to read the composition of the new government.

The next presidential election is scheduled for December 20. Félix Tshisekedi, in power since January 2019, has announced for months that he would be a candidate for re-election.

Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde has been Prime Minister since February 2021. President Tshisekedi had appointed him to consolidate his majority after ending the coalition he formed at the top of the state with his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

-Africa News

United Nations officials have arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday to assess the security and humanitarian situation in the east of the country.

Fighting in the North Kivu province has intensified recently with the M23 rebels threatening to cut off all road links to Goma, a city of more than one million inhabitants situated on the border with Rwanda.

Speaking on arrival, the French ambassador to the UN reaffirmed the support of the international community with the DRC. 

"The main message we have come to convey is that the United Nations, the international community, stands by the Democratic Republic of Congo in its ordeal because what is happening in the east of the country is not acceptable, the action of the groups is very reprehensible, it must be fought", said Nicolas de Rivière.

Several regional initiatives intended to defuse the conflict have so far failed to stop the fighting.

An Angola-mediated ceasefire that had been due to take effect on Tuesday collapsed the same day.

"We have been saying since the beginning of this interview that the Security Council have many levels in his action for peace and security. One of the main tools for peace and security is dialogue. It's difficult to make it without dialogue and negotiation. Indeed, we don't have only dialogue and we are here to envisage all the possibilities of the objective to bring peace and security", addedGabon's ambassador to the UN, Michel Xavier Biang.

The Congolesegovernment accuses Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels. 

UN experts, the United States and several other western states, have also concluded that Rwanda supports the group, although Kigali has so far denied that.

The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCOis one of the largest and most expensive UN missions in the world, with more than 16 000 uniformed personnel.

Residents accuse it of failing to deal with the dozens of armed groups operating in eastern DRC, including M23 rebels.

-Africa News

The Charity group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known as "Doctors Without Borders" on Tuesday deplored the "lack of coordination" in the humanitarian response in a troubled and remote region of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where, according to the NGO, more than 150,000 displaced people are in urgent need of assistance.

In the territory of Lubero, north of Goma, capital of the province of North Kivu, more than 150,000 people, who fled the fighting between the Congolese army and the M23 rebellion, are living in "total destitution", MSF said in a statement, which "calls on humanitarian actors to mobilize as soon as possible.

MSF says it has observed "a slow humanitarian response, marked by a lack of coordination, despite the availability of funding and the presence of many organizations in Goma. 

According to MSF, aid to North Kivu is focused on the provincial capital. But "the inhabitants and displaced people in remote areas" remain "left to their own devices and receive no aid," according to Caroline Seguin, MSF's emergency operations coordinator in North Kivu.

The needs "are immense," Seguin said. "Our aid will not be enough. Today, we call on all humanitarian actors to mobilize to organize the delivery of aid to this population in distress," said MSF.

Fighting is complicating access to this landlocked region. At the end of February, the United Nations announced the suspension of humanitarian flights after one of its helicopters was shot at. Since then, access to Lubero territory has become more complicated, notes MSF.

Attempts by AFP to reach other humanitarian actors in the region were not immediately successful.

The M23 rebellion took up arms in November 2021 and has since seized large swathes of territory north and northwest of Goma. According to the UN, the fighting has displaced some 800,000 people in one year. The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting this rebellion, which Kigali denies.

-Africa News

Prosecutors in the trial of six people accused of murdering Italy's ambassador to DR Congo in 2021 requested the death penalty Wednesday, during an indictment hearing in the capital Kinshasa.

The central African country has observed a de-facto moratorium on capital punishment since 2003, according to the United Nations, but courts continue to hand down death sentences.

Luca Attanasio, Italy's former ambassador to the DRC, was among three people killed on February 22, 2021, when a UN convoy was ambushed in the country's troubled east.

The other fatalities were driver Mustapha Milambo and Italian police officer Vittorio Iacovacci.

A military tribunal examining the murders opened in Kinshasa in October.

On Thursday, military prosecutor Bamusamba Kabamba, told the court that the victims had been kidnapped" and "dragged deep into the forest before being killed".

He requested the death penalty for all six men accused in the case. Five of the men are being held in prison in Kinshasa, while the other is on the run.

During previous hearings, the prosecution cast the defendants as criminals who had initially intended to kidnap the ambassador and demand a $1 million ransom.

The defendants, who were arrested in January 2022, denied any wrongdoing and said their initial confessions were extracted through torture.

The tribunal is due to hold another hearing on Saturday, where the defence is expected to wrap up its case.

A final judgement is expected at an undefined later date.

Much of eastern DRC is prey to armed groups, many of which are a legacy of regional wars that flared during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Militia attacks against civilians in the volatile region are common.

-Africa News 

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