Katrina's Feed
Mar 27, 2010

LRA killed hundreds in late 2009 Congo massacre: U.N.

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed at least 290, and maybe more than 300 people in Congo in a previously unreported massacre in December 2009, U.N. officials told Reuters on Saturday.

The killing spree took place in villages in Democratic Republic of Congo’s remote northeast and followed warnings of rebel threats after similar massacres the year before.

Mar 22, 2010

Payments don’t add up in Congo’s resources report

KINSHASA, March 22 (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo
published on Monday its first report charting mining and oil
payments, showing wide variation in what it received and what
companies said they paid it.

Congo, whose indebted economy relies heavily on mineral
exports, wants to join a global transparency scheme before it
celebrates 50 years of independence in June, in an effort to
attract more investment.

Mar 20, 2010

DR Congo could win debt relief deal by June: IMF

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo could win a deal to wipe out the bulk of its $11 billion debt in time for June celebrations marking 50 years of independence, the International Monetary Fund said on Saturday.

President Joseph Kabila has sought to step up the pace of the reforms needed to secure the accord, which would ease the debt repayment burden on an economy still recovering from a 1998-2003 war in which some 5 million died.

Mar 17, 2010

Soco to drill Congo’s first onshore well in 40 yrs

KINSHASA, Mar 17 (Reuters) – SOCO International <SIA.L> will
begin exploring for oil in Democratic Republic of Congo in July
in what will be the country’s first onshore-only drilling
project in 40 years, a company official said on Wednesday.

The project in the Bas-Congo region marks a step forward for
the central African nation’s oil sector, which has been
virtually paralyzed by decades of corruption and conflict but
which is now attracting increased investment interest.

Mar 11, 2010

Congo hopes new museum can heal nation’s scars

KINSHASA (Reuters) – In a macabre echo of the punishments Belgian colonials once meted out to their Congolese laborers, a faded bronze statue of the explorer who carved out the country is missing two of his limbs.

Pulled down by anti-imperialists after Congo’s former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko declared a policy rejecting colonial vestiges in 1971, the statue of Britain’s Henry Morton Stanley lies clutching a broken baton, his feet severed.

Mar 3, 2010

U.N.-backed mission launched against Congo rebels

KINSHASA (Reuters) – A U.N.-backed military operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was launched at the weekend, a U.N. official said Wednesday.

“The first joint operations began at the weekend against FDLR (rebel) centers,” Alan Doss, head of the U.N. operation in Congo, called MONUC, told Reuters.

Mar 2, 2010

DRC army commander may face trial for abuses

KINSHASA, March 2 (Reuters) – The Democratic Republic of Congo will try an army commander accused of mass killing and rape of civilians if a military report backs the allegations against him, a minister said on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and 50 Congolese groups lodged a formal complaint against Lieutenant Colonel Innocent Zimurinda, a senior officer in the conflict-racked east of the central African country, requesting his suspension.

The activists say Zimurinda, a former rebel incorporated into the army as part of a peace deal, has overseen or participated in massacres, summary executions, rape, recruitment of children and forced labour.

They accuse him of ordering the killings of 129 Rwandan Hutu refugees in April 2009 and commanding troops who raped women and girls and shot members of their families in 2009 and 2010.

"We are waiting for an official report from the army and if they agree with the accusations we will absolutely launch a military court within 24 hours," Lambert Mende, minister of information, told Reuters.

"We think it is a good thing they have made these accusations."

The government of Congo has been struggling to regain control over the country since a 1998-2003 war and accompanying humanitarian disaster that have killed 5.4 million people.

Its army has been accused of human rights abuses during a U.N.-backed operation last year against Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels.

A new U.N-backed campaign, codenamed Amani Leo, was launched against FDLR fighters at the start of the year, raising new concerns about the behaviour of the army.

HRW said it had reports of summary executions and rapes under the command of Zimurinda, who was not likely to take part in the latest operation, as recently as two weeks ago.

"No commander with any track record of human rights abuses should be anywhere near the conflict zone and MONUC (the UN mission in Congo) should insist on that," Anneke Van Woudenberg of HRW told Reuters by telephone from Goma, adding they might bring complaints against other commanders.

The United Nations Security Council says U.N. peacekeepers cannot work with army battalions guilty of human rights abuses, and late last year cut aid to some units.

MONUC says that, with the Congolese government, it is assessing which army commanders it can work with.

General Amuli Bahigwa, operational commander of Amani Leo, told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday he was in the bush in the east and had not yet read the complaint. (Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Andrew Dobbie)





Feb 26, 2010

BHP seeks Congo power project to replace Westcor

KINSHASA, Feb 26 (Reuters) – BHP Billiton <BLT.L>, the
world’s biggest mining company, wants to build a $3.5 billion
2,500 MW hydro power plant in Democratic Republic of Congo to
support its proposed aluminum smelter, according to a company
presentation obtained by Reuters.

The proposed Inga X project, to be presented to Congo’s
presidency on Friday, would replace a rival 5,000 MW project for
the same location put forward by Westcor and rejected by the
government last weekend — a venture that would have exported
the bulk of its power to southern African neighbours.

Feb 22, 2010

U.S. special forces start training Congo troops

KINSHASA, Feb 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. military command for Africa (Africom) has started training 1,000 Congolese troops in the north of conflict-riven Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.S. ambassador to the central African country said on Monday.

The troops undergoing training in the eastern town of Kisangani by U.S. special forces among others, will learn tactics, maintenance and medical care, William Garvelink told reporters.

"We are working together to build a professional military that protects Congolese citizens and their human rights and protects the territorial integrity of the Congo," he said.

Last year, a Congolese army operation backed by U.N. troops drew criticism for wide-ranging human rights abuses and both sides say they want to improve army discipline.

U.S. military officials said obeying the chain of command would be at the forefront of their efforts in the $30-40 million, eight month training programme.

Garvelink said training had been delayed by two years due to American special forces’ commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Human rights observers have questioned whether training an army containing so many former insurgents would only make them more professional rebels.

"Are we going to make them better at killing or are we going to give them disciplined skills to obey the officers…so that they demonstrate restraint?" asked Col. Thomas Crowder, Africom-commissioned director for the office of security cooperation at the U.S embassy in Kinshasa.

"That’s what we’re striving to achieve," he said. (Editing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Jon Boyle)



Feb 20, 2010

Congo’s Kabila reshuffles, trims cabinet, no rebels

KINSHASA, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has carried out a wideranging cabinet reshuffle, excluding former rebels, changing 20 posts and dropping a deputy minister at the centre of a mining review.

The reshuffle, announced on state radio late on Friday, also trims the cabinet to 43 posts from 54, a move officials said would reduce state spending and simplify preparations for elections expected in 2011.

Among the highest profile changes Matata Ponyo, formerly head of a financial research bureau and from Kabila’s ruling PPRD party, replaced Athanase Matenda as finance minister, and opposition member Jean-Baptiste Ntawa Kuderwa was named budget minister.

PPRD member Gilbert Tshiongo Tshinbinkubula took on the energy portfolio, while interior and security minister Celestin Mbuyu moved to the hydrocarbons ministry, the announcement said.

Many deputy ministers’ posts disappeared, including that of powerful deputy mining minister Victor Kasongo, who played a key role in a lengthy mining review that has yet to resolve contracts with two copper companies — First Quantum Minerals Ltd <FM.TO> and Freeport-McMoRan <FCX.N> — in the southern province of Katanga.



NO POSTS FOR FORMER REBELS

As street vendors sold copies of the new government list in the busy city centre, rumours circulated that two ministers had been appointed from the former CNDP rebels — Rwandan-backed Congolese Tutsis who expected roles as part of a peace agreement that ended fighting in eastern Congo.

The prime minister’s office said there were no posts for the former rebels whose units have been integrated into the national army — a fact likely to anger CNDP officials.

Key posts allotted to the main opposition party PALU, including that of prime minister Adolphe Muzito and mining minister Martin Kabwelelu, remained in PALU hands — evidence that their pact with the ruling party remains intact.

Most other opposition parties represented in the cabinet already fall under an umbrella group, Alliance for the Presidential Majority (AMP), which supports Kabila’s government.

Nzanga Mobutu, son of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko under whose 32-year rule corruption strangled the nation, moved to vice prime minister for work, from vice prime minister for basic social needs.

The country is still recovering from the global slowdown which halted copper mining and hit the foreign exchange reserves, and from a 1998-2003 war and decades of corruption. There is still fighting in parts of the east and north.