News / Africa

    Ugandan Rebel Group Remains a Mystery 20 Years On

    FILE - Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo [FARDC] launch missiles during their military operation against Ugandan Islamist group, Allied Democratic Forces, outside Beni, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 2014.
    FILE - Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo [FARDC] launch missiles during their military operation against Ugandan Islamist group, Allied Democratic Forces, outside Beni, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 2014.
    Nick Long

    This week a U.N. Security Council committee placed sanctions on a Ugandan Islamist group, the Allied Democratic Forces, for using child soldiers, killing and abusing women and children, and attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. Council diplomats say the group, which has been operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will now be subject to travel bans and asset freezes.

    The Allied Democratic Forces is one of the oldest armed groups in eastern Congo, but it is also one of the most mysterious.  The ADF originated as a coalition of groups in western Uganda who found themselves marginalized after the fall of the late president Idi Amin.

    In the early 1990s they regrouped inside Congo, in the territory of Beni, where they forged alliances with powerful individuals from the Nande community and made money from timber and gold.

    ADF's various links

    The Ugandan government has alleged that ADF has support from Sudan, an assertion backed up by Western diplomatic sources. It also says the ADF has links with Somalia’s al-Shabab, although some analysts contest this.

    Analysts agree the group has a bad human rights record. Residents of Beni are calling for an investigation of mass graves that were found near some former ADF camps to see if people the group kidnapped were buried there.

    "The ADF is particularly known for its kidnapping campaigns," said Timo Mueller, who studies armed groups in eastern Congo for the U.S.-based Enough project. "They kidnapped people -- children, as well as elderly people -- in 2013. Unfortunately, this did not evoke the same kind of international outrage that another rebel group in Nigeria, Boko Haram, caused."

    Hardly any of the kidnap victims have been found, and very few of the estimated 800 to 1,200 ADF fighters have deserted or been captured. Mueller suggested they differ somewhat from Congo’s other armed groups.

    "Unfortunately few people have direct insights into the group’s dynamics, but what is known is that this group is Islamic in nature - fundamentalist in nature," he said. "There’s a strong ideology and also coercion and a control system inside the group."

    Intensified operations

    In the past six months the Congolese army, or FARDC, has stepped up operations against the group, and both sides have taken significant casualties.

    "The FARDC did secure most of the group’s former strongholds, but the problem is that the ADF has not been neutralized yet," said Mueller. "Rather, the problem has been displaced elsewhere, namely to the Orientale province, north of their former strongholds, so the FARDC, together with the U.N. peacekeeping mission need to keep up the pressure on the ADF, not just militarily but also economically."

    Mueller believes the U.N. sanctions will help to weaken the group, but says other actions will be needed.

    "I think overall sanctions against the rebel leaders, or against the rebel group as such, are important but they are not sufficient. They do have an effect," he said. "There are travel bans in place, limitations against their financial transactions, cutting off their revenues, not all of them but some that are important."

    The governor of Congo’s North Kivu province recently praised the army for its success against the ADF, but said he thought it might take another six months to a year to finish them off.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora