DRC: The repeated limits of “military shopping” in Kinshasa

DRC: The repeated limits of “military shopping” in Kinshasa

The southern African troops have already been widely criticized for their “inaction”.

The flags have changed on the facade of the headquarters of the regional forces headquarters installed in a former hotel in the city of Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Burundian, Kenyan, Ugandan and Sudanese standards were taken down to make way for the South African, Malawian and Tanzanian colors.

A change of colors which is the most visible demonstration so far of the replacement of East African Community (EAC) troops by forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The members of the EAC were in fact asked by Kinshasa, after a year of presence on the ground, to return home. The Congolese authorities considered them insufficiently “active” in the face of the advance of M23 troops. Before sending these troops back, Kinshasa took great care to negotiate with its southern neighbors the sending of a force called SAMIDRC. The SADEC countries would have promised the equivalent of a battalion, or 5,000 men. South Africa, which took command of these troops, promised through President Cyril Ramaphosa to send 2,900 soldiers alone with air and artillery support.

If the first troops arrived in December, a few days before the presidential and legislative elections, three months later, the framework is far from being filled.

South Africa, in the electoral campaign, is divided over the sending of soldiers to eastern Congo

The South African president, who has already lost two men in the DRC, is in difficulty on the domestic scene less than three months before a passage through the polls which promises to be perilous for his party, the ANC, which could lose absolute majority 30 years almost to the day after the election of Nelson Mandela in May 1994.

The opposition does not have harsh enough words to criticize this mobilization for the North Kivu front with an army that is poorly equipped, underfunded and poorly prepared for this mission.

“The South African troops are stationed in the Goma region and they are not moving,” explains a member of Gomatracian civil society who prefers to remain anonymous. “The M23 avoids direct confrontation. The forehead is frozen. Motionless. But Goma lacks everything, access routes are practically all cut off by the rebels and hundreds of thousands of refugees are piling up in the region. Meanwhile, further north in the province, the M23 is progressing quietly and without real opposition.”

“Strategic” withdrawal

On the side of the Congolese military, we regularly talk about a “strategic withdrawal” which convinces no one in the region. “The only obvious observation is that the M23 is progressing. Kinshasa is no longer credible. This Thursday, the Congolese army announced that it had retaken positions in the province of Ituri. Positions which are not occupied by the M23 but by the Codeco militia which collaborates with Kinshasa“, continues a member of Lucha.

All the interlocutors point “ inefficiency » of the ” foreign troops who never come for free” And ” lack of will » of the Congolese power to strengthen its own army to fight against the “ rebels supported by Rwanda but also by other neighbors »as the member of civil society explains.

Return of the death penalty

This weekend, the Congolese Minister of Justice announced the lifting of the moratorium on the execution of the death penalty in the DRC. Officially, this measure aims to “rid the army of traitors and stem the resurgence of terrorist acts and urban banditry”.

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For Lucha, “in addition to being unconstitutional, the lifting of the moratorium on the execution of the death penalty opens a corridor to summary executions in this country where the defective functioning of justice is recognized by all, including the supreme magistrate”. The citizen movement alludes to the words of President Tshisekedi who conceded, when publicly addressing the case of journalist Stany Bujakera, imprisoned since September 8 for publications of which he was not the author, that Congolese justice was ” sick “. The return of the death penalty in this context is particularly worrying.

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