The Star Early Edition
Seven die in Congo clash before renegade officer surrenders to UN
GOMA: Clashes between Congolese troops and supporters of a renegade colonel in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern city of Bukavu killed seven people yesterday before he surrendered and turned himself in to UN peacekeepers.
Army spokesman for South Kivu province, Dieudonne Kasereka, said clashes had started after police came to disarm Colonel Abbas Kayonga, who was sacked from his post overseeing anti-fraud efforts in local mines.
Kayonga, a former rebel from a group that had been integrated with the Congolese military, gave himself up to the UN mission to the Congo.
“He has just surrendered with 17 people at the base of the mission,” Kasereka said. Two soldiers and three of Kanyonga’s bodyguards were killed in the fighting and two civilians.
Seventeen of Kanyonga’s force surrendered to UN troops and nine others were captured by the army. Soldiers found about a dozen heavy weapons at Kanyonga’s house.
Security has been deteriorating across the Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down despite his mandate expiring.
Militia violence in the east, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalries fuelled by the region’s mineral wealth, and in the formerly peaceful central Kasai region, has raised fears the country could slip back to multifaceted civil wars.
Those killed hundreds of thousands directly in violence while millions are thought to have died from of hunger and disease.
South Kivu has rich deposits of gold, tin and coltan, used in mobile phones, which have long helped finance rebel groups.
The national electoral commission was expected to announce a date for the election to replace Kabila later yesterday. Last month it said the election cannot take place until April 2019, raising fears of an escalation indisturbances.
US envoy Nikki Haley said during a visit to meet Kabila last month that the vote must happen in 2018 or it will lose international support. – Reuters