Two days ago, President Kabila removed Major-General Gabriel Amisi as head of the Congolese land forces, one of the most powerful positions in the military. Amisi, aka Tango Four, was a well-known racketeer, who had made a fortune from kickbacks and embezzlement in the army, and who has also been cited for grave human rights abuses, including the May 2002 Kisangani massacre. Yesterday, he named Lieutenant-General Francois Olenga as his replacement.
The rot in the Congolese army runs deep; naming a new commander will not change the way things are done. But we should still ask - who is Olenga?
Olenga, who is from the Tetela ethnic group in northern Kasai, has been an important, if discrete player in Kinshasa since that days of Laurent Kabila. Leaving his home in Germany, where is family still lives (he speaks fluent German), he fought in the AFDL to topple Mobutu, taking advantage of his connections in eastern Europe to organize weapons shipments. He kept up this role until recently, traveling often abroad to organize supplies for the Congolese army. In 2002, he was cited by a UN investigation for using money from the state MIBA diamond mining company to purchase weapons for the army.[view whole blog post ]