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Thread: Gazing in the Congo (DRC): the dark heart of Africa (2006-2017)

  1. #21
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Speaking of water front property in Gombe...

    Last year our company was looking for an additional residence to rent. One of the properties we looked at was on the river in Gombe. I am told it was a beautiful place with a large house and a pretty garden. It was also one of the less expensive places available because it was located right next door to the house of one of the vice-presidents.

    We ddn't take it.

  2. #22
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Water Front Property ?

    There was a time when the 80-plus mm mortars reduced property values along the water front facing Brazzaville, Congo. The automatic fire was also very impressive So much, that the shrink that came to help us (crossing in our Boston Whaler) never made it to Kin that day.

    I remember the Ambassador's residence being sort of a fire control point with all the lights (generators running into the night, et al).

    Probably better you folks didn't rent that area in Gombe

  3. #23
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default The Lights On the Water

    Now Stan,

    You have to admit the reflection of tracer rounds across the water did lend a certain ambience to the Gombe water front.

    Tom

  4. #24
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Child Soldiers in DR Congo

    5 years old and a general already! Alexander Haig has got nothing on this kid.

    Seriously, I could have put this under the Congo SitReps from Carl but this one deserves its own thread. Child soldiers are a fact of life--and death--in Africa these days.

    "They are fast. They are brave. They are everything a commander would want. So they are definitely still an asset to the mixed brigades". Who are they?

    Child soldiers named by the CAAG acronym to mean Child Associated to Armed Groups. General Baraka, five years old, is a CAAG captured in Lubero territory and transferred to Goma tw days ago. Unicef has been asked to take care of him. He was commander of a mai mai (tribal warrior group) estimated at a brigade ; that's why Baraka' although a child, is officially known as brigadier General Baraka. He is hidden somewhere in Goma for security reason.

    And if the 700 Club/Operation Blessing could do it while Stan and I were on the groumd in Goma, I guess the UN peacekeers can too. (And no, I did not make up the names):
    UN peacekeepers patrolling eastern Congo allegedly traded gold and weapons with the militias they were supposed to help disarm, according to leaked UN reports. An investigation by the BBC World Service, to be broadcast today, alleges that Pakistani peacekeepers based in the mineral-rich area of Mongbwalu bought gold from two rebel commanders nicknamed Dragon and KungFu.
    Best

    Tom

  5. #25
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Links?

    Tom do you have links to the articles?

    Have you read, A long Way gone by Ishmael Beah. It is an account of child soldiers written by a former child soldier in Sierra Leone.

    T

  6. #26
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Hey mate,

    What you see is what I have from Carl. They are his old outfit's sitreps from the Congo. I will keep looking in the press tpo see if some open source news comes out.

    Best

    Tom

  7. #27
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Lockheed Electras, Diamonds and Eggs

    You know Tom, when we would constantly check those tail numbers at N'djili, I had some real doubts that the folks at Clarendon were listening. Who, afterall would believe that 11 or 12 Electras were flying round the clock with a manifest of eggs and milk, returning with (ahem) nothing

    I actually still have those doubts, but no longer care

    Back in our days, had you reported this general, I'd have ended up with (what was her name) 'Becka' (a new DATT) much sooner.

    On a serious note, those camps in Goma were not sitting around waiting for UN food donations, and I recall extremely young children already handling firearms.

    The heart of darkness she was and still is !

    Regards, Stan

  8. #28
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    You know Tom, when we would constantly check those tail numbers at N'djili, I had some real doubts that the folks at Clarendon were listening. Who, afterall would believe that 11 or 12 Electras were flying round the clock with a manifest of eggs and milk, returning with (ahem) nothing

    I actually still have those doubts, but no longer care

    Back in our days, had you reported this general, I'd have ended up with (what was her name) 'Becka' (a new DATT) much sooner.

    On a serious note, those camps in Goma were not sitting around waiting for UN food donations, and I recall extremely young children already handling firearms.

    The heart of darkness she was and still is !

    Regards, Stan
    Stan,

    I did hear later that we actually had an effect on the Angolan airlift when our stuff was compared with some other reports. But remember Op Blessing at Goma and those brand new (newly refurbished) aircraft? The 700 Club and Op Blessing actually ended up getting fined over that one by the state of Virginia for using a humanitarian organization as a front to smuggle gold and diamonds. Fiery Kate got on their track as well after we left and while I was in Rwanda--because they were hiring former SEALs as bodyguards, etc. One of them told her what they were doing in their "humanitarian" work.

    I guess what gets me about the 5 year old general is that you could not make this stuff up. I know we saw youngsters with plenty of blood on their hands but a 5 year old? and a general?

    Best

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 05-29-2007 at 05:40 PM.

  9. #29
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Stan,

    I did hear later that we actually had an effect on the Angolan airlift when our stuff was compared with some other reports. But remember Op Blessing at Goma and those brand new (newly refurbished) aircraft? The 700 Club and Op Blessing actually ended up getting fined over that one by the state of Virginia for using a humanitarian organization as a front to smuggle gold and diamonds. Fiery Kate got on their track as well after we left and while I was in Rwanda--because they were hiring former SEALs as bodyguards, etc. One of them told her what they were doing in their "humanitarian" work.

    I guess what gets me about the 5 year old general is that you could not make this stuff up. I know we saw youngsters with plenty of blood on their hands but a 5 year old? and a general?

    Best

    Tom
    Glad to see we did end up with credit for those Angola reports.

    RE 700 Club and Op Blessing - I dunno why it was so hard to believe, we'd seen far worse leading to death with the French. What's a little gold and few diamonds amongst friends

    My 'retired' buds along the 'beltway bandit clubs' have stories that I could never repeat herein.

    Yeah, 5 is a bit young for a flag. He could've been a good sergeant though (under my command)
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 05-29-2007 at 05:40 PM. Reason: Fix Tom's mistake

  10. #30
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    ICG, 5 Jul 07: Congo: Consolidating the Peace
    ....Congo has a window of only a few years during which the international community can be expected to remain committed to supporting consolidation of the peace process. By the end of 2007, the UN Mission (MONUC) will probably be under pressure to implement a significant drawdown, and donor support will likely be shifting to other post-conflict theatres. Without strong, clear signs of significant changes in governance, the window could close even more quickly. This report outlines the challenges that need to be addressed in the next two years....

  11. #31
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default U.N. Evacuates Staff from Congo

    Starting to sound very familar, all over again. Even with 18,000 peace keepers, we can't seem to keep a lid on K-town. Doesn't look like we've learned much in the last two decades...leaving military observers unarmed around the former Zäirois .

    KINSHASA, Congo -- The U.N. evacuated dozens of staff Wednesday from a remote east Congo town after mobs of stone-throwing protesters angry over the possible return of refugees from a minority ethnic group ransacked U.N. and other humanitarian agencies there, officials said.

    The protesters, angry over rumors of the return of ethnic Congolese Tutsis, or Banyamulenge, looted a house used by the U.N. observers and wrecked the offices of the U.N. refugee agency and other aid groups, de Brosses said.

    Despite the end of the mineral-rich country's wars in 2002, eastern Congo has remained a lawless and violent place where local militias hold sway far from the distant capital, Kinshasa.

  12. #32
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Damn took a while to even find Moba, Stan. It is south of Kalemie on Lake Tanganyika, which is funny because I don't recall this being the area where the Congolese Tutsis, or Banyamulenge,came from in the first place. I thought they were from further north. Then again you never really need a good reason to riot in the Congo...

    Best

    Tom

  13. #33
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Damn took a while to even find Moba, Stan. It is south of Kalemie on Lake Tanganyika, which is funny because I don't recall this being the area where the Congolese Tutsis, or Banyamulenge,came from in the first place. I thought they were from further north. Then again you never really need a good reason to riot in the Congo...

    Best

    Tom
    If I recall correctly, the Banyamulenge (the French and Belg called them collectivité Barundi...it was far easier to pronounce in French ) began life as Burundi Tutsi immigrants and later in the 1900s sought work and settled in South Kivu. Later ethnic violence from Burundi's Hutu would drive more into Kivu (I'm guessing late 60s).

    Our drivers often spoke about the Barundi stealing jobs from the Zäirois (as if the Zäirois were dying to get jobs or for that matter, work for a living).

    All Africa reports: Calm Returns After Anti-Banyamulenge Demo.

    "After a day of looting, stone-throwing and break-ins into offices, the town is now calm and the last group of UN staff being evacuated is at the airport," Eusebe Hounsokou, the head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in DRC, said on 2 August from Lubumbashi, the provincial capital.
    So Tom, What do ya think ? Nothing left to steal or drink

  14. #34
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    So Tom, What do ya think ? Nothing left to steal or drink
    At the JRTC we would call it a tactical freeze or pause--stop long enough to let them resupply and resume operations. Works in Louisiana, will work in the Congo

    that is true on the 60's surge but there were earlier when the Tutsi King controlled much of this area. Dissident Tutsi family groups moved outward to get away from the King's power and stayed where they were after that power receded. We are talking the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    best

    Tom

  15. #35
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Congo - Des milles collines ?

    For Tutsis of Eastern Congo, Protector, Exploiter or Both?

    By Stephanie McCrummen
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Monday, August 6, 2007

    Villagers said that earlier this year Nkunda hoisted a flag and declared his mountain fiefdom a new country: Land of the Volcanoes.

    KICHANGA, Congo -- On the way to the mountain headquarters of renegade Congolese Gen. Laurent Nkunda, there are villages patrolled by Laurent Nkunda's police and checkpoints where Nkunda's soldiers demand that truck drivers pay a tax to support their leader's cause.

    Local residents can settle disputes these days in Nkunda's courts or attend church with a priest appointed by Nkunda, who is wanted on war crimes charges but lately has been wearing a button that reads "Rebels for Christ."
    Video and more at the link...

    Tom, Looks like he forgot his Ray-bans, rappel seat and carabiner. But then, perhaps he's not airborne qualified
    Last edited by Stan; 08-06-2007 at 07:48 AM.

  16. #36
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    "Is it really Nkunda who is the problem?" asked Nkunda, who carries a gold-tipped baton and often refers to himself in the third person. "They want to keep me as the problem so that they can explain all the problems in Congo through Nkunda. . . . But I will protect myself, and I will protect these small number of Tutsis who are here."
    Never a good sign referring to yourself in the 3rd person...I wonder what Tom Odom would think?

    "Rwanda cannot establish a relationship with such a person, but we can understand why Nkunda is Nkunda," Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said in an interview. "We can understand his argument."

    Armed with a sense of righteousness fortified by visiting American evangelical Christian groups, Nkunda has in recent months been carrying out attacks against village after village.
    Charles, I know. He is quite adroit and when it comes to the international relations game, there is no one better. See this interview for an example.

    One has to wonder which evangelicals have hooked up with Nkunda.

    Best

    Tom

  17. #37
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Uganda, DRC Talk Over Interahamwe Threat

    From The New Times, Rwanda's First Daily "The presence of Interahamwe militias in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was given much priority during talks between Kampala and Kinshasa early this week."

    Strange, they've only been there for the greater part of 2 decades, but then...

    The development follows an attack in south western Uganda on August 9 by suspected Interahamwe. Three people were killed when machete-wielding armed men speaking a mixture of Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili attacked Butogota Trading Centre, according to government. The assault on Uganda was the third in less than two weeks.
    The DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda are members of the Tripartite. "Negative forces is the key thing on the agenda in September," Kiyonga said soon after meeting MPs on the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee at Parliament. But he said their strength "is of a nuisance level" that would not threaten to overrun any establishment in the region. Most of the negative forces including the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (or Interahamwe/ex-FAR) and NALU have been blacklisted by the Fusion Cell in Congo that brings together members of the Tripartite Plus Commission and the United States.
    Greater details at the link...

  18. #38
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Damn took a while to even find Moba, Stan. It is south of Kalemie on Lake Tanganyika
    I knew a Congolese woman from Moba. Her family had a cattle farm in the area before they were all run out in the late wars. We picked her up in Lubumbashi and landed in Bujumbura on the way back to Kin. She was very nervous in Bujumbura and said if she left the airport she was afraid they would kill her.

    She told me that when she was a girl she had to run for her life twice. Both times a neighbor came and told them the soldiers were coming so her mother took her into the bush and they stayed there for months. They went into the bush with the clothes they were wearing and what they had in their pockets. She said they slept on the ground drank from streams, ate what they could find and what people from villages would give them.

    I never realized until talking with that woman how all those millions of displaced Congolese died.


    "Rwanda cannot establish a relationship with such a person, but we can understand why Nkunda is Nkunda," Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said in an interview. "We can understand his argument."

    In Kinshasa, the conventional wisdom was that Nkunda was Rwanda's man in the Congo.

  19. #39
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Congo-Kinshasa: New Democracy Must Build on Local Leaders

    Free elections in the DRC ? I thought, naw, this must be yet another Congo drill - reel 'em in, eliminate one's opponent's, Commandre, and all of his forces

    An intriguing article from All Africa, A bit long-winded covering history from the late 1800s, but they do finally get to the point on page two.

    With conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo cooling, and warriors aspiring to become democrats, the country’s new constitution is coming under increased scrutiny.

    In a novel development for the DRC – where there is persistent worry that only a strong centre can hold the far-flung state together – power is split between national, provincial and even local institutions, write constitutional experts Olivier Kambala wa Kambala and Coel Kirkby. This is a development that should be welcomed, they say.

    The new provinces will become operational in 2009. Each province is electing a provincial assembly, which in turn will elect a governor. The assembly will share power with the national legislature in many civil rights areas and can also draft its laws for a provincial development plan, regulate customary law, raise taxes and more. On paper, the Congolese provinces have similar powers to Nigerian states and South African provinces. This analogy inevitably invokes the dreaded “f”-word, federalism.

    Right now the situation is different. First, Congolese citizens have participated in a few free and fair elections. Second, there is time to establish governing and administrative institutions before the new provinces are inaugurated. Last, poorer provinces have a constitutionally-assured share of national revenues. Nevertheless, this ambitious plan will face monumental challenges.
    More at the link

  20. #40
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Congolese have fled into Uganda

    Reuters reports - Ugandan army says 10,000 refugees flee Congo

    A Ugandan military spokesman said the refugees feared renewed clashes between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) troops and forces loyal to General Laurent Nkunda after Nkunda organised an anti-U.N. demonstration that turned into a riot.

    "Approximately 10,000 people have come from the Congolese side fearing renewed violence ... local district authorities and aid organisations are trying to help them," said Uganda's army spokesman for western Uganda, Lieutenant Tabaro Kiconco.

    Kiconco said the refugees told officials in Uganda's Kisoro District that they expected more fighting after villagers, urged on by Nkunda's men, rioted on Tuesday in protest against U.N. troops they said failed to protect them from militias.

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