News / Africa

DRC Army, M23 Rebels Compete for Militia Allies

Nyatura militia combatants at an army camp in North Kivu, DRC (N. Long, VOA)Nyatura militia combatants at an army camp in North Kivu, DRC (N. Long, VOA)
x
Nyatura militia combatants at an army camp in North Kivu, DRC (N. Long, VOA)
Nyatura militia combatants at an army camp in North Kivu, DRC (N. Long, VOA)
Nick Long
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s army and the M23 rebels in the east of the country are both trying to forge alliances with militias or armed groups.  The M23 is reported to have allied with nine armed groups including some notorious human-rights abusers, while the army has been trying to integrate several militias into its ranks, so far with uneven results.

The United Nations radio in the DRC, Radio Okapi, reports that 35 militia leaders and combatants took part in an army parade in North Kivu province on Tuesday, where they promised that their followers would soon come out of the bush and join the army.

The 35 men were from three groups - the Raia Mutomboki or Angry Citizens Alliance, a multi-ethnic coalition; the Nyatura, an ethnic Hutu group; and a small group called the Union of Congolese Patriots.
 
The day after that ceremony, the United Nations revealed that Raia Mutomboki groups have killed at least 246 civilians, mainly women, children and elderly people, in scores of attacks on villages in North Kivu province between April and September.
 
Following that report, the government’s communications minister, Lambert Mende, said that militias returning from the bush would not necessarily be integrated in the army.
 
"There is a lot to be done with such people to reinstate them in a normal life, but not only within the army.  This is something to be managed by the government, by the local authorities and by the justice [system] because maybe among those people who are returning some criminals might be found," Mende said.
 
Limited Army Success

So far the only militia the army has integrated on a large scale this year is the Nyatura.  The U.N. accuses this group, with their Rwandan rebel allies the FDLR (or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), of killing at least 18 civilians in North Kivu’s Masisi territory between April and September.
 
Around 200 of the Nyatura armed group assembled at an army base at Mushaki in Masisi territory last month.
 
Unarmed group might have been a better description, as most of these young men had no visible weapons. One of them gave his name as Lieutenant Hazikimana Idriss.
 
He said they are happy the government is ready to support them, but are still hoping to be paid salaries, to guarantee their survival.
 
Hazikimana admitted that most of his group had been in the army before, and had deserted.

He says they abandoned the army because it did not guarantee them anything. They were badly paid, badly fed and had no spare set of clothes.
 
The DRC’s land forces commander, General Amisi Tango Fort, spoke to a group of Nyatura officers and other leaders after inspecting the combatants.
 
He said he knew their conditions are uncomfortable, since it often rains at Mushaki and it is cold, but he would be returning on Saturday and would try to bring them some tents.
 
The general also told the Nyatura that if they had left weapons in the forest they should bring them to the next inspection.
 
In late September the authorities announced that two other militias had agreed to join the army - the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (or APCLS) and the so-called Guides or Congo Defense Forces.
 
But last month a spokesman for the APCLS, John Lewis Weza, said at Kalembe village in Northern Masisi and explained that the integration had not yet happened because certain conditions had not been met.
 
He said the APCLS leader had laid down a condition for integrating with the army that it should guarantee the APCLS’s logistics, because their depots were running down.
 
Ammunition Problem

Later in that interview Weza complained that the army had blocked an attempt by APCLS supporters to bring them ammunition.
 
The militia had an answer to their complaint a few hours later.
 
The ammunition was on its way - courtesy of the Congolese army, which was attacking the village. The villagers speaking there said they are used to the sound of gunfire. After a three-hour fire fight the militia retreated, leaving behind several dead.

Militiamen integrating or allying with the army will expect something in return, says International Crisis Group analyst Thierry Vircoulon.
 
"The integration process is not working, and the conditions for it to work are not yet in place. The problem of the militiamen going into the army is the same as it was five years ago. When you talk to them they say ‘Well, we’re going into the army, but the army is not paying us.'" Vircoulon said.
 
Questions on M23 Allies

Another Congo analyst, Jason Stearns, says the M23 rebels have made alliances with nine armed groups in eastern Congo, including some of the Raia Mutomboki, who are accused of massacring women, children and the elderly.
 
Vircoulon says the M23’s allies may not be reliable.
 
"Those alliances are very opportunistic. They are more or less based on money, and a lot of those alliances still need to be tested on the ground - I mean, for instance, in a combat situation," Vircoulon said.
 
A M23 spokesman, Didier Kasereka, said that so far the movement had allied with only one armed group, the so-called Mai Mai Lafontaine, although he also said they were seeking alliances with other groups.

The M23 captured parts of North Kivu during fighting with the army earlier this year.  United Nations monitors have accused the group of receiving support from Rwanda and  Uganda - charges that both countries have vigorously denied.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More