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DRC President Suspends Army Chief

General Gabriel Amisi, the new regional commander of the Congo's 8th military region in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo poses at his base in Goma December 19, 2004.
The commander of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s land forces has been suspended pending an investigation. General Gabriel Amisi is accused in a United Nations report of selling weapons to armed groups.

President Joseph Kabila’s decision to suspend General Amisi was announced on national TV on Thursday by the government spokesman Lambert Mende.

Mende said criminal networks in the army are enabling senior officers to enrich themselves by controlling and trafficking natural resources, notably ivory poached by armed groups.

Citing the U.N. report, Mende said General Amisi had given hunting weapons to several armed groups including the Raia Mutomboki, who are accused of many atrocities, and that he had also given 300 AK-47 rifles to the Nyatura militia, who are accused of killing civilians and burning many homes.

Who Are the M23 Rebels?

Who Are the M23 Rebels?

  • Named for March 23, the date of a 2009 peace deal
  • Contains fighters once loyal to a rebel army who assimilated into the DRC army, then defected
  • Formed in early 2012
  • Dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group
  • Also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army
  • UN experts say the group is backed by Rwanda, which Rwanda denies
Earlier on Thursday a network of Congolese human rights groups, RENADHOC, had called on the president to sack Amisi and three government ministers as well as the head of the national police.

RENADHOC’s executive secretary is Fernandez Murhola.

He says that RENADHOC members welcome the decision to suspend Amisi but they think the decision should have been taken sooner and is not enough. He says they think President Kabila should suspend many other senior officers.

Amisi was not accused by the U.N. experts of handing over weapons to the M23 rebels, whose recent victories have humiliated the army and government.

But Murhola suggested that Amisi and other senior officers were working with the M23 group.