Blog entries from: Congo Siasa

A blog on Congo, its politics and tribulations.

1 to 10 of 11

February 7 2014

From Congo Siasa Fri Feb 7 2014, 09:44:00

Rift Valley Institute Field Courses 2014

The Rift Valley Institute's field courses on Sudan and South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes take place from May to July 2014. Now in their eleventh year, the courses provide a basis for understanding current political and developmental challenges in the region. They are taught by teams of leading specialists--from the region and beyond-and offer a unique opportunity to spend time with an outstanding group of specialists, away from routine distractions. RVI courses are designed for policy-makers, diplomats, investors, development workers, researchers, activists and journalists--for new arrivals in the region and those already working there who wish to deepen their knowledge. A dawn-to-dusk programme of seminars, lectures, group ...

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January 29 2014

From Congo Siasa Wed Jan 29 2014, 08:26:00

As readers will have realized, Congo Siasa is on a hiatus for the coming months. I hope to be back soon.

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November 16 2013

From Congo Siasa Sat Nov 16 2013, 14:37:00

During the recent military escalation in the Kivus, the Congolese army fared far better than in the past, defeating a weakened M23. While the army leadership made an effort to streamline the chain of command and to ensure adequate supplies, army reform will have to be far more deep-rooted.

It is interesting to see how Congolese officers themselves see the challenge. In February of this year, the army high command invited around 120 senior officers to Kinshasa for a seminar on army reform--it was an excuse to remove them from the field, where they were clogging up the military hierarchy and, in the case of some, embezzling funds. But many of them are highly qualified officers, and when they were asked to produce an analysis of the army's defeat to the M23 in Goma in November 2012, they came ...

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November 13 2013

From Congo Siasa Wed Nov 13 2013, 07:37:00

On Monday, the peace talks in Kampala seemed to (again) be on the verge of success. The M23 and the Congolese government delegations were on their way to State House, and international envoys said both sides had agreed on the eleven articles of the agreement. At the last minute, however, the deal fell apart--over the simple issue of a title.

The Congolese refuse to sign an "agreement" (accord) and merely want to issue a "declaration" to conclude the talks. The M23 and the Ugandan mediation, meanwhile, are pushing for a formal, binding agreement.

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November 7 2013

From Congo Siasa Thu Nov 7 2013, 10:58:00

Following the national concertations in Kinshasa in early October, President Kabila gave a speech in which he announced, in the interest of national unity, the formation of a "government of national cohesion." Now, a month later, there are signs that Kabila will move soon to set up this government. When he does so, he will have a difficult choice: keep the current prime minister and maintain course on state reforms; or bring in someone who can help him rally the political elite around him.

Prime Minister Matata Ponyo, who has been in office since April 2012, has been able to make modest progress on improving governance, especially with regards to the economy and state finances. He is particularly popular with the donor community, who think that he has been able to name some competent ...

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October 30 2013

From Congo Siasa Wed Oct 30 2013, 22:19:00

The new round of fighting between Congolese government forces and the M23 rebels is reaching a dramatic climax. With the Congolese army having swept through all of the major towns that the M23 held--Kibumba, Rumangabo, Rutshuru, Kiwanja, and since this afternoon Bunagana--the M23 may be nearing its end. This would be historic--it would be the first time the Congolese government had defeated a major rebellion, and it would be the first time since 1996 that an armed group allied to Rwanda is not present in the eastern Congo. It is, however, too soon, to declare an end to the M23, as the rebels reportedly still occupy the hills along the Rwandan border between Runyoni and Tshanzu.

How did we get here?

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October 24 2013

From Congo Siasa Thu Oct 24 2013, 09:51:00

President Joseph Kabila expressed the view of many Congolese when he said, during his speech to the country today, that the Kampala talks have dragged on for too long. This despite the optimism that was on display last week as international envoys--Martin Kobler, Modibo Toure, Ibrahim Diarra, and Russ Feingold--converged on Kampala in hope of a deal. And in all-night sessions substantial progress was made, as the Congolese government and M23 agreed on a majority of the issues on the table. This included the release of prisoners; the end of M23 as a rebel movement and the possibility to establish itself as a political party; the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); and the return of extorted and looted properties during the M23's brief occupation of ...

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October 23 2013

From Congo Siasa Wed Oct 23 2013, 21:42:00

Today President Joseph Kabila finally addressed the nation and a joint session of parliament in Kinshasa. It was his response to the conclusions of the concertations nationales, which had brought together the government, opposition, and civil society to debate the challenges facing the country. The concertations were a strange forum. Proposed by the opposition to deal with the legitimacy crisis following the flawed 2011 elections, then transformed to debate a wide array of challenges facing the country--except the 2011 elections--that would usually be addressed through traditional, constitutional means: parliament, or the court system.

Nonetheless, the concertationsproduced a substantial list of recommendations, and Kabila seized on several. Most importantly, he said that in the interest of ...

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October 2 2013

From Congo Siasa Wed Oct 2 2013, 23:00:00

Controversy has broken out over the alleged presence of up to several thousand Kinyarwanda-speaking returnees in M23 territory.

For several weeks, there has been a steady movement of Congolese refugees into the Kibumba area north of Goma, the southern edge of M23 territory. According to several UN sources, there may be up to 3,000 such returnees in this area, mostly Congolese Tutsi who fled the country, some as long ago as 1994, and were living in refugee camps in Rwanda.

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From Congo Siasa Wed Oct 2 2013, 22:27:00

Few international news outlets picked this up, but it was an important decision. Yesterday, the US government decided not to grant a waiver to Rwanda for the use of child soldiers. Every year, the White House has to provide waivers to countries that the State Department reports as using child soldiers. This year, that report listed Rwanda as complicit in the recruitment of child soldiers for the M23. Still, the government could have provided a waiver--as it did in the case of four countries--but it chose not to.

This decision is symbolic, as it will probably only affect around $500,000 in training programs for the Rwandan army, but is nonetheless important. It can probably be interpreted as the first official indication in months--the UN Group of Experts report in July suggested that ...

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