Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tensions escalate in the Kivus

Following my last blog posting, the situation has continued to deteriorate. Bosco Ntaganda's position in Goma has been reinforced by a group of soldiers that was based with the former commander of his bodyguard unit,  Lt Col Mugabo, in Kibumba (just north of Goma). Goma town is full of rumors (or reports, depending on your ontological approach) of a new rebellion kicked off, led by Bosco, but that conclusion is still premature, as most of the ex-CNDP troops are still deployed in the field.

More worrying are a series of clashes between Congolese army officers and ex-PARECO units in South Kivu. The Hutu ex-PARECO officers are suspected of being in touch with Bosco and, in general, regular army officers resent them for their influence, affluence and power.

Yesterday, Col. Kifaru, a Hutu ex-PARECO officer who became notorious last year after his troops were accused of mass rape in Nakiele (Fizi territory), was allegedly ambushed in Kabamba (Kalehe territory) on his way from Goma to Bukavu. While the immediate area is controlled by Col. Biyoyo, an ex-CNDP commander, the local battalion commander is seen to be a Kinshasa loyalist. The CNDP and PARECO are now trying to figure out what happened and what the motive might have been. Col. Kifaru is himself reported to be badly injured.

But they are unlikely to see this as a local initiative by a disgruntled commander. The same morning, regular army commanders fell out with a ex-PARECO officer, Col. Burimasu, in Lulimba (Fizi Territory), reportedly over his weapons stockpile. Fighting ensued and Col. Burimasu is said to have fled.

Given that the attacks happened in South Kivu, fingers will be pointing as Col. Delphin Kahimbi and Gen. Patrick Masunzu, the commanding officers in the province.

We will have to wait and see what happens. Some see this as a push by Kinshasa to clamp down on the pernicious parallel chains of command in the Kivus. Now that elections are over, they are free to do so. Others see this as an escalation of local tensions between commanders. It is unclear how this will develop - as a Congolese friend once told me: "La guerre c'est comme la bière. Nous savons comment ça commence, mais personne ne sait comment ça se termine."


Anonymous said...

This is a system between JK and Bosco to undermine the current political crises in Kinshasa, so that people get brainwashed.

blaise said...

wow, that sound like straight from some westerns spaghetti scripts. I suspect JK is trying one of his unsubtle backstabbing trick here. i really doubt Bosco will stand a chance in Goma. Too much bad bloods and apparently his forces are scattered all over the place now. I will bet my money that Kagame will be call to handle him since it will be hard for the FARDC to do the job without killing everybody else in the process and drag the matter for months.
I may be mistaken but I thought Masunzu was a general.

Anand said...

Sounds like the powers that be are trying to stoke the right fires to get the outcome they want. But fire is not so easily controlled. Have there been any civilian casualties yet? This is my primary fear, if things escalate.

Rich said...

Jason -

“We will have to wait and see what happens. Some see this as a push by Kinshasa to clamp down on the pernicious parallel chains of command in the Kivus. Now that elections are over, they are free to do so. Others see this as an escalation of local tensions between commanders”

Could well be both! At least, the timing seems a little bit suspicious...

A few days ago I posted a link with the meeting the DRC's interim PM Koyagialo and North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku plus heads of security services had in Kinshasa…

On Saturday 31 March 2011, in Brussels for the first time ever Théogène Rudasingwa a ex top adviser to kagame accused him publicly of being responsible of the assassination of L D Kabila...

I can anticipate a huge PR exercise from Kigali in the coming days to try and deflect attention and in the same way it is very possible that a few fuses will burn during this exercise. Would one of those fuses be Scobo? I guess only time will tell...

Anand -

I'm with you on civilian casualties. Message to anyone involved will be to insist on who ever is responsible in the potential lighting or supervision (MONUC, ICC) of that fire to have in place a strong and unambiguous plan and THREATS, aimed at protecting civilians, before giving the go ahead to any military operations or escalation.


texasinafrica said...

That comment from your friend is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, Masunzu is a general.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason,

I have seen Bosco here in Goma city today (with lot of soldiers escorting him), he was just with his friend at the side of main road.
From my point of view i do not think Bosco will make a second mistake to go back to a bush to start a new rebellion. No one will follow him - many youngsters from East are tired of war or being cheated.
What i have heard is that the CNDP top commanders are complaining for earning less than the same commanders who came from Kin or other part of DRC, even the normal CNDP soldiers are complaining for not earning deliberately while others are paid - Which is normal.
But for the last two days there was some tension between CNDP soldiers and FRDC soldiers.


Anand said...

Rich - Interesting points, especially about Rudasingwa accusing Kagame. I would also not be surprised if there is a lot of the typical PR and disassociation tactics from anything that could be viewed as unfavorable. Lots of shady dealings prior to these types of conflicts. I've heard the implication that basically donors have said they will live with the elections if Bosco is dealt with (and CENI dismantled). So can we say, that if things spiral downward, that western hands are somewhat prompting the conflicts?

Jason Stearns said...

Yes, absolutely: Masunzu has been a general for quite some time.

@ Churuchuru - the ironic thing is that the non-CNDP soldiers are complaining of not having the same benefits as CNDP officers. In theory, everyone receives the same pay, now almost $60/month for a simple soldier. The difference is in how "juteux" the positions are: military operations come with bonuses, access to operational funds and lucrative taxation & smuggling rackets. And many of these operational assignments have gone to CNDP officers during Amani Leo.

Anonymous said...

I heard about a meeting in Kigali between some congolese ANR officer and rwandan authorities. Subject's meeting was Bosco situation. Anyone confirms?

Anonymous said...

@ Anand

Good point about the international community's position in all this. When Jason made his last post I thought the timing was somwhat a cause for concern.

It is all well and good to talk about thousands of MONUSCO peacekeepers in and around Goma, and that arresting Bosco should be some easy matter - in point of fact the UN force is basically a tripwire deployment. If matters escalate out of control then the P-5 Security Council members are obliged to consider a Chapter VII operation such as France undertook in Ituri in 2003.

With both Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama in full re-election mode, are either prepared to countenance such an operation now? Perhaps they have some other contingent plan in place...others have mentioned the Rwandan option.

I hope all possible scenarios have been thought through carefully


Anonymous said...

As a point of clarification, I was not implying that Jason suggested arresting Bosco would be some easy matter; I was referring to the NY Times piece by Tony Gambino and Lisa Shannon.


BradLehigh said...

Is there a "successor" to Bosco in the way that he was to Nkunda? Someone that the CNDP would turn to if Bosco was no longer capable? If not, what would prevent infighting or a split within the CNDP?

Anonymous said...

in the absence of any other stimuli (for lack of a better word), the most likely cause of these "disturbances" (sorry, but words can no longer adequately describe what happens in the east Congo. I mean, can one honestly describe this as a "deterioration"?) is a push by Kinshasa which, ofcourse, is upsetting the "balance of power" (and all in accoutrements) in the area.

Bebe's days are numbered, he knows that, his underlings know that, so a vacuum is beginning to open, and the jostling for position is on....

this is all theory, ofcourse, but I'm actually really curious with how all this affects militia activity?

is there any correlation between the balance of power (centered with the Bosco faction..for now) in the East with militia behavior/growth/attacks?

or is militia activity totally unrelated to these balance of power issues?


Anonymous said...

Wether it is Lucifer fighting in Hell and his demons burst the air Congolese people will stand firm and SAY NON more war to whoever wants to bring war again and say YES for peace regardless who brings for it.

blaise said...

@ Churuchuru,
It's weird that "CNDP soldiers" are complaining about their pay. From my understanding, they had most of what they asked for (stayed in the Kivus, kept their chain of command, control of mines,etc). From my understanding, that cause tensions with other soldiers.
I think that it's either somebody in Kinshasa trying to play the sorcerer's apprentice by retaining their money or is somebody in the CNDP high command who is keeping the money for himself.
In any case, I think the culprit is up to no good. That exactly the kind of situation favorable to another explosion. Maybe that's the plan.

Anonymous said...

as far as I know CNDP soldiers rejected to receive their military Identidy Card because the grade wasn't what they expect. Kabila partners played dirty games in "commission des grades" for the CNDP.

So, I don't know what kind of salary their are receiving right now

Rich said...

NOT looking good at all since this morning -

Got reports from a very reliable source near Rutshuru that since this morning Tuesday 3rd of April, there is a kind of panic around Rutshuru due to the defections from the 804th regiment of the FARDC.

Some said since Sunday night and early Monday ex cndp soldiers left their position in Rubare and went South towards Katale. On Monday some FARDC soldiers from the 804th regiments also left their HQ in the hands of ex cndp soldiers.

There is a high ranked military delegation from Kinshasa inRutshuru to try and understand what's going on but, similar to what Jason and CHUCHURU said earlier, many sources are saying that ex cndp soldiers seem to be responding to an order from Masisi where many other soldiers close to Bosco Ntanganda have also defected and were heading towards Kitshanga.

It is difficult to see how this will pan out! I would like to hear from those who think Bosco must be arrested now and at all cost because before this happen there will be yet more human rights violations and an unpredictable level.

Just for the records, I think Bosco should and must be stopped but maybe the timing is not correct and many have reacted more in relation to Thomas Lubanga being found guilty than from any realistic assessment of how things may go if ever Bosco is threatened to be arrested.

Option 1. Surely, there must be a way of getting the local community settle this matter in their best interest, that of the nation as well as that of the international community rather than having to parade Congolese on international courts many miles away with all the risk of going back to square one with the renewing of the conflict.

Option 2. There must be a better way of doing this than through armed confrontation... and here I am thinking about pressure on kagame who is bosco's handler.

Option 3. Escalation then no one knows...


blaise said...

@ anonym APRIL 3, 2012 4:11 AM,
thank you for the precision, I don't think Kinshasa properly handled this matter anyway. There were a lot of murky dealing here. Instead of solving the problem they use yet another band aid.
What's up with Nkunda's faction? Did they reconcile with Bosco?
If there is escalation and Rwanda intervenes again, I think Bosco will do an hail Mary, probably at Kishanga.
I don't think that he should be hand over to the hague anyway, I'm for a local justice not a witch hunt that seems focus almost exclusively to Africa. Why are they not judging those who finance those wars? What the difference between al bashir and al assad or Putine/ medvedev? How about France and the licorn?

Anonymous said...

Panic in Baraka and uvira last night. Apparently CNDP fractions diserted in town. Heavy deploiement of FARDC and UN in Uvira.
Not confirmed but Byamungu himself could have led a number of troops to the hauts Plateaux from uvira to avoid confrontation with makanika coming form Bukavu.
Salongo, former ops officer loyal to Nkunda based in uvira since amani leo moved not long ago to the grand nord. A number of reasons behind defections: rumors of deploiement outside SK and NK and obviously problems with salaries and solde.

More tomorrow, hope the night goes well

Anonymous said...
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