News / Africa

UN: Congo Army Still Undisciplined

Fighting for control of the capital of Congo's Equateur province has revived concerns about the strength of Kinshasa's army

United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (file)
United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (file)

Fighting for control of the capital of Congo's Equateur province has revived concerns about the strength of Kinshasa's army at a time when United Nations peacekeepers will start withdrawing in June.  President Joseph Kabila's government says its troops will be ready by the time all UN soldiers are gone next year.

Ethnic Enyele rebels surprised government troops and U.N. peacekeepers with their attack on Mbandaka.  They briefly held the governor's office and the airport before last week's joint counter-attack drove them back into the bush.

But the speed with which this violence has grown from a dispute over local fishing rights to a series of ambushes and this strike on Mbandaka shows the fragile state of Congolese security, even outside the more volatile eastern Kivu regions.

U.N. peacekeepers in Kivu are expected to remain at least through next year.  But troops in the west are expected to begin pulling out by June, when Congo celebrates 50 years of independence from Belgian colonialism.

The U.N. Secretary General's Deputy Special Representative for Congo, Leila Zerrougui, says the government has made clear the withdrawal of the MONUC peacekeeping force will remain on schedule.

Zerrougui says she is not saying the situation in Congo does not require the continuing presence of U.N. peacekeepers, but MONUC cannot deploy if the government refuses their presence.

With nearly 22,000 troops this is the biggest U.N. peacekeeping mission.  It has played a central role in restoring order in Congo, following two wars between 1998 and 2003 that resulted in the deaths of at least one-million people.

But Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende says MONUC troops in Mbandaka failed to protect civilians during this month's fighting.  He says the rebel attack should not delay MONUC's withdrawal because Congo's army will be ready to handle its own security when the last U.N. soldiers leave.

Mende says the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are recovering, little by little, their ability to take responsibility for defending the country, like a traditional army.  An army that will be ready and operational in a year, a year and half from now - the time given U.N. peacekeepers to make their gradual withdrawal.

The head of MONUC peacekeepers, Alan Doss, told the Security Council this week that there remain substantial structural shortfalls in a force drawn from both the remnants of the army of long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and various militia who fought against Mobutu.

"Discipline is likely to remain a constant concern as long as the structural problems of the Congolese Army are not fully resolved, including persistent delays in the payment of salaries, insufficient supplies and a very low level of training of many troops, especially those who have been integrated from the various armed groups," said Doss.

Doss says Congo's army has taken some important measures to improve discipline as the number of soldiers prosecuted for crimes against civilians has increased substantially.  But he says military impunity is still an area that needs significant improvement as part of overall efforts to reform Congo's security sector.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid