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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.

All About America

AppleAndroid