DRC: White mercenaries to ensure the security of Tshisekedi

DRC: White mercenaries to ensure the security of Tshisekedi

A decision that angers the Congolese soldiers.

“There are around forty of them and they are staying in a luxurious hotel in the center of Kinshasa, at 300 dollars per night and this price does not include any service, not a meal,” explains Pierre D., a Congolese soldier, senior, engaged in the ranks of the army for 18 years, who adds that he has not received his pay for 6 months, “or a little over $15,000”.

Kabila’s shadow

For several weeks, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi has spoken with those close to him about distrust of the troops responsible for ensuring his security. “The attempted coup d’état led by Christian Malanga on May 19 only heightened his fears and accelerated the arrival of these whites in Kinshasa.explains another soldier.

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He does not hide his apprehensions,” adds a diplomat stationed in Kinshasa. “He also does not hide the fact that he sees the hand of his predecessor behind these possible movements. Joseph Kabila is omnipresent at the head of the first circle of power,” continues another foreign observer for whom “Kabila’s silence and the fact that he moved away from the country to take refuge in Namibia or South Africa are elements which further shape the image of the man who threatens power, who wants to take his revenge”.

Wind of grumbling

This Thursday, June 20, returning from a trip to South Africa to participate in the swearing-in of his colleague President Cyril Ramaphosa, Félix Tshisekedi stopped in Lubumbashi to inaugurate railway equipment which should facilitate the evacuation of the agricultural production in certain regions. It was during this public outing, the first in this province since his re-election, that the president’s new “bodyguards” were noticed. About twenty white men in military uniform, well armed. “They are Romanians who speak French. Former members of the French Foreign Legion based so far in North Kivu. They are officially responsible for monitoring certain sensitive installations, such as Goma airport. but they also participated in certain counter-offensives of the Congolese army against the M23. At least two of these Romanians died in these fights”continues a Congolese agent.

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The presence of these “white mercenaries” did not go unnoticed in the ranks of the Congolese military. Some in Kinshasa see this distrust of their troops as a form of betrayal. “The situation is complicated throughout the country and the authorities are only accentuating the unease with such actions. These mercenaries receive between $15,000 and $20,000 per month. They are housed in luxury hotels, eat every day, and even several times a day, when the Congolese soldiers have a pay of 150 dollars which has not been paid for several months”explains a sergeant based on the edge of Kinshasa.

The discontent is palpable in the ranks of the army”explains a person close to the Congolese authorities who mentions “several generals who remained close to Kabila” and insists on “a general who has his own troops in Kinshasa itself”.

Threat Alignment

In Kinshasa as in Lubumbashi, the possibility of a coup is widely commented on in all services. “The President of the Republic is under tension. He knows that the soldiers are unhappy. He knows that the budgets allocated to them are largely misused. He also knows that the war in the East, the tensions with the countries of the East African Community, have earned him strong enmities in all the States of this region, with the exception of Burundi whose military weight is proportional to the size”, explains a former minister from the east of the country. Tensions also emerged with Congo-Brazzaville which moved closer to Rwanda. Angola, for its part, sees a new form of ethnic tensions, imported from Congo, developing within its borders with concern. “We must also add the war of the intelligence services which does not allow us to calmly analyze these threats”explains a member of the ANR who concludes: “mercenaries or not, this anger will lead to an explosion of violence. The only question is the timing and where this movement will start.”