We Will Burn Some...

KINSHASA/BERLIN | | kongo-kinshasa

KINSHASA/BERLIN (Own report) - In Kinshasa demonstrators are threatening to burn EU soldiers, and have announced they would resist foreign interference into the internal affairs of their country. Just a few weeks before the arrival of the main contingent of the German military (Bundeswehr), observers anticipate an imminent escalation of the Congolese civil war. Militia units are accordingly already training in several parts of the country and are preparing for an intensification of the conflict. The press of the country reports that rebel groups in the Kivu provinces, in the east of the Congo, are sustaining themselves through their German connections, which refers to the significance of the Somikivu company - an enterprise with majority German shares, over which the German Government has rights of control. Deadly conflicts between demonstrators and the EU intervention force are already being foreseen in Kinshasa. The German commander of the contingent has announced he would grant permission to also shoot at armed children. During protests against the European intervention troops, in the Congolese capital last week, it was threatened that "if they aren't careful, we may have to burn a few of them".

Soft Targets

"This place is no longer their colony" [1], chanted demonstrators last week in Kinshasa, as the formal resolution for the assignment of EU troops was being confirmed in Brussels. "The Congolese people will resist. The Congo belongs to the Congolese, not the foreigners," declared a parliamentary candidate of the opposition. UN representatives in Kinshasa are anticipating an escalation of violence. "A clear resentment is growing against the 'international community'," observes a UN representative, who prefers to remain anonymous: "the people are completely disappointed by the peace process and could begin to attack soft targets".[2]

Private armies

The increasing anger about the electoral farce being prepared by the west, is behind last week's unrest in several cities of the country. Consequently the largest opposition party, UDPS, will not participate in the elections - following the dubious decisions taken by international personnel, it was reported in Kinshasa.[3] The consequence could be the renewed division of power among the current government's parliamentary factions. In the recent past, foreign investors have arranged mining industry projects, worth millions, with these factions and now fear the loss of their privileges. Some of the foreign enterprises received unusual advantages. "How can you grant 90 percent of the entire cobalt concessions to someone?," opposition circles are asking concerning the Deals; they refer to the continued existence of the private armies, with which the government's parliamentary factions prop up their power.[4] Thus President Joseph Kabila has units stationed throughout the country, 50 kilometers from the capital is where Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba has his troops in training, pro-Rwandan militias are still active in the eastern provinces of the Congo.

Third war

In Kinshasa, the press fears particularly a "third war" in the Kivu provinces. The UN Congo contingent, the MONUC, is particularly engaged in seeking to limit the military prerogatives of the militia commander, Laurent Nkunda [5], a former companion in arms of the Rwandan president, who, several times in the last few years, had found refuge on the premises of the German Somikivu company.[6] According to Congolese press reports, Somikivu is presently preparing to restart mining operations after a recent suspension.[7] The head of the company, Modé Makabuza, is also affiliated with the Rwandan government, one of Germany's Central African clientele.[8] In Kinshasa, the worries are that the millions, in possible profits from Somikivu, which stands under a trust contract to the German Ministry of Economics, could benefit the militias, who owe their allegiance to Rwanda.

Implications

These apprehensions derive from past implications of pro-Rwandan activities in Somikivu. Thus, according to information furnished by the United Nations, Modé Makabuza, head of the company, is closely linked to a arms smuggling operation, that supported the Nkunda militia in its mutiny back in the spring of 2004. In the ensuing battles serious war crimes were committed.[9] In addition, the organization [10] is implicated in money laundering transactions for the pro-Rwandan governor of North Kivu.[11] This is the context that explains the origins of rumors, making the rounds in Kinshasa, that seven German officers are preparing to travel to North Kivu to carry out inspections.[12] This would be in contradiction to the German parliamentary Congo deployment mandate, as well as to the EU deployment guidelines, both excluding the eastern provinces of the country from the EU troops' area of operations. The Operations Command Headquarters in Potsdam explicitly denied to german-foreign-policy.com that these reports were true.

As in Yugoslavia

Given the background of the presence of various western spheres of influence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the opposition considers even the possibility of a parceling up of the country. According to the Dr. Helmut Strizek, an expert in African affairs, the German government, already years ago, had "actually (...) approved" [13] of the secession of the Kivu provinces. This is also not to be currently excluded, explains a prominent representative of the Congolese opposition: The west can declare the Congolese "for incapable of administering such a large country", and suggest the parcelization of the country - "like Yugoslavia".[14]

Please read also Politisch schwieriges Terrain, War Resources (I), Kriegsressourcen (II), War Resources (III), Begrüßt und fortgeschrieben, They are ready, Interview with Dr. Helmut Strizek and The Sun is Red Over the Congo

[1], [2] Nationalist anger spills over as Congo polls near; Reuters 15.06.2006
[3], [4] Interview with Valentin Mubake, representative of the opposition UDPS; IRIN 13.06.2006
[5] Military Brief - North Kivu 15.06.2006; www.monuc.org/News.aspx
[6] see also They are ready
[7] Rd-Congo, danger: les élections se préparent, la guerre aussi; L'Avenir Quotidien 16.06.2006
[8], [9] see also They are ready
[10] Es handelt sich um die proruandische Organisation Tous pour la Paix et le Développement (TPD), gelegentlich auch Tous pour la Paix et la Démocratie genannt.
[11] International Crisis Group: The Congo's Transition is Failing: Crisis in the Kivus; Africa Report N° 91, 30.03.2005
[12] Une entreprise minière risque de financer une autre guerre; Forum des As 12.06.2006. Kivu toujours en danger; La Têmpete des Tropiques 12.06.2006
[13] see also Interview with Dr. Helmut Strizek
[14] Interview with Valentin Mubake, representative of the opposition UDPS; IRIN 13.06.2006