Tag Archives: Congo

DRC: clashes in Parliament

Brussels 08.12.2020 Congo’s parliament descended into chaos on December 8 as rival political groups threw chairs and buckets in a brawl that laid bare the tensions caused by the incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi’s to terminate his alliance with his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

Tshisekedi announced on December 6 scheduled to cancel his governing coalition with allies of Kabila, while Kabila’s supporters claimed the move was illegal.

The standoff has raised fears of instability in the Republic whose economy has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose recent history has been touched by repeated civil wars and political upheaval.

The parliament fight broke out in the main hall of the building between lawmakers and supporters from the two parties, one of whom appeared to be wielding a machete.

Tshisekedi’s supporters, some with sartorial look, hurled chairs, wooden batons and plastic buckets up a staircase toward Kabila partisans who bounced back.

One man was carried away bleeding injury on the head. The police had to disperse the belligerent groups with tear gas.

The two camps have a long history of bad blood. Tshisekedi and his late father were longtime opponents of Kabila, who governed from 2001 to January 2019.

Tshisekedi agreed to the coalition after his victory in the disputed 2018 election, in which he defeated Kabila’s chosen successor but Kabila allies won majorities in parliament, entitling them to most cabinet posts.

Frustrated by his inability to move on with his agenda, Tshisekedi said that he would try to form a new majority in parliament and, if unsuccessful, would call for new parliamentary elections.

Kabila, who stepped down last year under domestic and international pressure not to seek a third mandate, is eligible to run again in 2023.

DRC: end of Ebola outbreak

Democratic Republic of Congo’s health minister announced the end of an Ebola outbreak in the west of the country that infected 130 people and killed 55.

The outbreak emerged in June, just before Congo declared the end of a separate Ebola epidemic in the east that was the second-deadliest on record, killing more than 2,200 people.

“A heartfelt thank you to everyone who tirelessly tracked down cases, provided treatment & vaccinated people in often remote communities tucked away in dense rain forests,” the World Health Organization’s Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, said on Twitter after the minister’s announcement.

Congo has suffered 11 Ebola outbreaks since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976, more than double any other country.

EU-DRC: €20m for police reform

Brussels, 16.11.2020 The European Union (EU) is maintaining its commitment to the security of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by earmarking €20 million from the 11th European Development Fund for the Police Reform Support Programme over five years. This brings EU support for police reform up to a total of €60 million.

“There can be no development and sustainable growth without a more peaceful environment. That is why the European Union is stepping up its support for security, peace and stability in the DRC. We are therefore backing the DRC’s government in its determination to continue the security, defence and justice reforms now under way, with full respect for human rights” European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said.

The resumption of police reform is of paramount importance to increasing public confidence in the security forces and supporting the rule of law throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This new European aid programme is aimed at improving governance, protection for human rights and efforts to combat impunity and corruption. It has four specific objectives: improving the implementation of reforms and the accountability of the police; increasing the professionalism of the police and the criminal justice chain; improving human resource management; and, lastly, getting community policing up and running in order to restore public confidence.

Given the importance of recognising the equality of men and women and combating gender-based violence, including sexual violence, particular attention will be paid to gender issues.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the European Union has been a long-standing partner, having provided a total of €670 million from the 11th European Development Fund for the period 2014-2020.

The priority sectors for European aid in the DRC are health, sustainable agriculture and the environment, infrastructure and governance, including defence, policing, justice and public finances.

The support programmes for the security sector, and more specifically the police, have contributed decisively to the implementation of police reform in the DRC, as highlighted by the creation of the Police Reform Monitoring Committee; the drafting of a framework act on the Congolese National Police (PNC) and strategic plans for the implementation of the reform; the creation of a database of police officers; the modernisation of the administration and the creation and construction of a police academy (ACAPOL).

This support has helped professionalise the police, paving the way for a civilian police force that is impartial and at the service of the community.

The EU support for security in the country follows on from the EUPOL DRC mission carried out from 2007 to 2014 as part of the common security and defence policy (CSDP), the first and second phases of the police reform support programmes financed by the EDF (€35 million) and the Congolese National Police reform support programme implemented from 2006 to 2020 with funding from the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (€5 million).

Belgium: Commandos versus Africa Museum

Brussels 29.09.2020 The lawyers of seven Belgium associations representing former para commandos and officers who have served in Africa have given notice to the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA, or AfricaMuseum) in Tervuren. They ask that “any damage to the honour and reputation of the Belgian para commandos” be obliterated in a text next to a statue at the large rotunda of the museum, Antwerp newspaper reports

The associations demand that any link between the operation of the para commandos and the “crushing” of the rebels be removed. They want the museum to remove any reference “that damages the reputation of the Belgian para commandos”, by 12 October 2020 at the latest.

In the absence of action within the set term, the associations will start legal proceedings, the lawyers say in the notice of default.

It concerns the statue “La Belgique opportant la sécurité au Congo” (Belgium brings security to Congo) by Arsène Matton. In addition, Belgium is portrayed as protecting a sleeping man and child in the folds of its flag. A semi-transparent veil has been applied over that image, with a postcolonial image intended to evoke a “visual and semantic shock that should shed new light on a heavy heritage”.

The picture shows an armed soldier with the text “A Belgian para commando in Stanleyville in 1964, crushing the Simba rebels. The formal independence of Congo in 1960 has by no means sounded the death knell for foreign intervention ”. The seven associations consider that the first sentence of the text is “particularly misleading, hurtful and an attack on the honor” of the then Belgian para commandos. They already sent an open letter in July to the general director of the museum, Guido Gryseels, with Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in copy.

According to the associations, this sentence establishes a “direct and unmistakable link” between the operation of the Belgian para commandos in Stanleyville, the former name of the current Kisangani, and the crushing of the Simba rebels. “This link is a clear historical untruth”, it sounds. “The intervention of the Belgian para commandos in Stanleyville from November 24 to 28, 1964 was after all a humanitarian operation that made it possible to free 2,375 hostages and was in no way intended to” crush the Simba rebels “. The humanitarian operation of the para commandos had no military purpose; and if Simba rebels were killed by para commandos during the humanitarian operation, it was only in situations of absolute necessity. ”
The associations demand that any link between the operation of the para commandos and the “crushing” of the rebels be removed. They want the museum to remove any reference “that damages the reputation of the Belgian para commandos”, by 12 October 2020 at the latest.

In the absence of action within the set term, the associations will start legal proceedings, the lawyers say in the notice of default.

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

Ebola outbreak in western Democratic Republic of Congo has infected 100 people as of August 21, claiming lives of 43 of them, the World Health Organization said.

The latest outbreak of the virus was declared on June 1 in Mbandaka, a city of one million people on the River Congo, just before DR Congo declared the end of a previous outbreak in the east that had lasted for two years.

It has spread to remote villages in Equateur province spanning more than 300 km of dense tropical jungle with few roads, the WHO said in a statement. The pace of the virus’s spread has been relatively consistent, case data shows.

“The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa regional director.

As in previous outbreaks, the WHO has implemented a ring vaccination strategy, where contacts of infected individuals are vaccinated, reaching more than 22,600 people to date.

In late June Congo celebrated the end of a genetically distinct Ebola outbreak which killed more than 2,200 people over two years. Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, however the response was limited by having to operate in areas controlled by armed groups.

There are the other problems along with security, complicating the situation, the last week health responders in Mbandaka went on strike and blocked access to testing laboratories for three days in protest over unpaid salaries and low pay scales. The strike ended on Monday when the government agreed to examine their claims.

Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, the response was hampered by having to operate in areas controlled by armed groups.

Last week health responders in Mbandaka went on strike and blocked access to testing laboratories for three days in protest over unpaid salaries and low pay scales. The strike ended when the government agreed to examine their claims.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976 and causes severe fièvre, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976 and causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Ghent removes Leopold II bust

Belgium city of Ghent removed a bust of King Leopold II from one of the city parks, in a symbolic gesture aligned with the celebration of 60 years of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former colony.

“This symbolic action is received as a relief by the Congolese community,” said Marie-Laure Mulayi . “Finally, we are being heard.” The student from African origin, she leads Umoja student union, devoted to multiculturalsm.

During the ceremony on Juin 31, testimonies were read by inhabitants of Ghent with African roots.

“Today is a very important day. But it is not the last day. This is the start of a process, not an end. The battle continues. We will continue to do our best and hopefully we will have a better world soon. ”

“Today we want to turn a black page in our history,” said ships Tine Heyse (Green party). After a minute of silence, the removal proceeded. After the statue was removed there was brief applause.

The bust was brought to a depot of the Ghent City Museum. It will be examined later to assess the damages made by vandals. The nameplate with the inscription “Leopold II, King of the Belgians” and the pedestal on which the statue stood will remain for the time being.

The time when the controversial statue was removed was kept secret. The City of Ghent did not wish to make it a public event, indicating that they were determined to respect social distancing and other sanitary norms in the situations of coronavirus pandemic.

The controversial statue has been damaged several times by vandals in recent weeks. On Juin 31 in the evening, the Belgicist association Pro Belgica made a final tribute to the statue.

There are different reaction of the removal, also those who think it is wrote to erase past. “Ghent capitulates. One criminal, Leopold II, is now replaced by another, who has been canonized: George Floyd. All under the guise of ‘the fight against racism and discrimination” writes on his Twitter micro blog Sam van Rooy, the Flemish politician and Member of Flemish parliament.

Belgium King appologies for Colonial past

Here is the letter that Belgium King Philippe sent to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, as part of the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sovereign expresses “deep regrets” there. (Translation from original in French):

On this sixtieth anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I extend my warmest wishes to you and to the Congolese people.

This anniversary is an opportunity to renew our feelings of deep friendship and to rejoice in the intense cooperation that exists between our two countries in so many fields, and in particular in the medical field, which is mobilizing us during this pandemic period. The health crisis strikes us amidst other concerns. The privileged partnership between Belgium and Congo is an asset to face it. On this national holiday, I wish to reaffirm our commitment by your side.

To further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to speak of our long common history in all truth and serenity.

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today rekindled by the discrimination still too present in our societies. I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified.

Global challenges demand that we look to the future in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The fight for human dignity and for sustainable development requires joining forces. It is this ambition that I formulate for our two countries and for our two continents, African and European.

The current circumstances unfortunately do not allow me to go to your beautiful country, which I would love to know better. I hope I will have the opportunity soon. “

AU confirms Ebola outbreak

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a new Ebola outbreak in the northeast province of the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on June 1 released a statement announcing the outbreak in Mbandaka, in Équateur province. According to the statement, six cases have been confirmed, with four deaths and two patients under medical care.

“It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase,” added the statement.

DRC: new Ebola case established

Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in the western province of Equateur, over 1,000 km away from the ongoing outbreak in the country’s east, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists on June 1.

The diagnosis presents a serious challenge to health authorities. In April, Congo was days from declaring the end of the second-largest Ebola epidemic on record when a new series of contaminations was confirmed in the east.

Rwanda: fugitive Bizimana pronounced dead

Serge Brammertz said fugitive Augustin Bizimana, who was indicted on 13 charges including genocide, murder and rape, is believed to have died in Pointe Noire, in the Republic of the Congo in 2000. His remains were identified by DNA testing.

Brammertz is prosecutor of a successor U.N. court with dual offices in Arusha, Tanzania and The Hague, Netherlands, that continues to function for remaining suspects and appeals.

“Bizimana was alleged to be responsible for the murders of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian United Nations peacekeepers, and for the murder of Tutsi civilians” in five Rwandan regions, Brammertz said in a statement.

The announcement of Bizimana’s death follows the arrest in Paris last week of Felicien Kabuga, another of a handful of prominent suspects from the Rwandan genocide who had been on the run for more than two decades.

“The key lesson from the death of Augustin Bizimana is that the world should give timely justice,” said Naphtal Ahishakiye, executive secretary of genocide survivors’ organisation Ibuka.

“The suspects should be brought to justice before their deaths, also to avoid survivors dying before hearing the cases of those who killed their loved ones.”

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda conducted 50 trials before closing its doors in 2015. Brammertz is prosecutor of a successor U.N. court with dual offices in Arusha, Tanzania and The Hague, Netherlands, that continues to function for remaining suspects and appeals.

The statement said prosecutors had conducted DNA analysis “late last year” on remains that had earlier been recovered from a grave site in Pointe Noire.

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