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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs