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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid