Congo army be­hind in­sta­bil­ity, smug­gling: UN

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

KINSHASA: Ex­ten­sive crim­i­nal net­works within Congo's army are de­lib­er­ately fos­ter­ing in­se­cu­rity to profit from il­le­gal min­ing, smug­gling and poach­ing, a re­port from United Na­tions ex­perts said on Mon­day.

In­se­cu­rity in Congo's east has con­tin­ued de­spite the end of a 1998-2003 war, dis­plac­ing more than 1.27 mil­lion peo­ple and spurred on by com­pe­ti­tion for nat­u­ral re­sources that has had a "dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on se­cu­rity," ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The Group of Ex­perts, a five-mem­ber team tasked by the U.N. to in­ves­ti­gate sanc­tions vi­o­la­tions, noted "per­va­sive in­sub­or­di­na­tion" through­out Congo's na­tional FARDC army.

"Of­fi­cers at dif­fer­ent lev­els of FARDC hi­er­ar­chy jos­tle for con­trol over min­eral-rich ar­eas at the ex­pense of civil­ian pro­tec­tion," it said of crim­i­nal net­works within the army.

Re­fer­ring to the rape of over 300 peo­ple in the Wa­likale district in July and Au­gust, the re­port said the lo­cal mili­tia blamed for the at­tack had been cre­ated by the army.

"The Group has con­cluded that Mai Mai Sheka is a cre­ation of a crim­i­nal net­work within FARDC," it said, not­ing that re­peated loot­ings by the group were aimed at the district's main mines.

The re­port is based on in­for­ma­tion from the U.N. and lo­cal groups, plus the team's "first-hand, on-site ob­ser­va­tions," or in­for­ma­tion cor­rob­o­rated with at least three in­de­pen­dent sources as­sessed by the Group as cred­i­ble and re­li­able.

A na­tional army spokesman did not re­spond to phone mes­sages and calls for com­ment. A spokesman for the U.N.-backed Amani Leo op­er­a­tion in the east ques­tioned the re­port's cred­i­bil­ity.

"They call them­selves ex­perts but it's writ­ten on the ba­sis of ru­mors," Ma­jor Syl­vain Ekenge said, not­ing a mil­i­tary tri­bunal was al­ready pur­su­ing some in­di­vid­u­als.

He in­sisted re­port al­le­ga­tions that ex-CNDP of­fi­cers are "the real de­ci­sion mak­ers" in most FARDC bri­gades are not true.

"There are no CNDP in the FARDC to­day-it's all the FARDC, we are not a po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion," he said.

In a res­o­lu­tion, the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil backed sev­eral of the re­port's rec­om­men­da­tions, in­clud­ing a request to in­ves­ti­gate hu­man rights abuses within the na­tional armed forces and sup­port for new "due dili­gence" guide­lines for the min­er­als in­dus­try. The res­o­lu­tion, which ex­tended sanc­tions in­clud­ing an arms em­bargo on rebel groups and travel bans and as­set freezes on peo­ple linked to il­licit min­eral trad­ing for an­other year, also added a new ex­pert to the panel to fo­cus on nat­u­ral re­sources. The due dili­gence guide­lines would re­quire im­porters to tighten back­ground checks on min­er­als. -Reuters

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