Widow Of Top DR Congo General Detained Again After Murder Acquittal

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

 

The wife of a former Democratic Republic of Congo intelligence chief who died in unclear circumstances last year said Wednesday she had been detained again, days after being acquitted of his murder.

Security forces “arrived at my home yesterday and took me and my mother to the Gombe prosecutors’ office, where I spent the night”, Brenda Nkoy told AFP by phone, referring to a district of capital Kinshasa.

Nkoy was married to intelligence boss and former deputy head of the armed forces Delphin Kahimbi, a right-hand man to Joseph Kabila, who ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo with an iron fist for 18 years until 2019.

Her lawyer Mulumba Tshivuadi told AFP that she was “accused of an escape attempt that supposedly happened on May 30, eight days before she was acquitted”.

Nkoy was one of a dozen people acquitted of murder on Monday by the judges. Prosecutors had been calling for the death penalty.

Her husband, the former military intelligence chief, died suddenly at age 50 on February 28 last year. He had been under European Union sanctions over rights violations.

At the time, Nkoy said Kahimbi had died of a heart attack, but incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi said soon afterwards he had been “hanged”.

30 Sentenced To Death Over Anti-Police Clashes In DR Congo

Map showing the Republic of Congo

 

Thirty people were sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday after a one-day trial for their role in anti-police violence marking the end of Ramadan in the capital, judicial sources said.

A policeman was killed in Kinshasa on Thursday as rival Muslim groups fought over the right to mark the end of Ramadan at a major sports stadium, officials said.

A lawyer for civil parties, Chief Tshipamba, told AFP 30 people were sentenced to death in a trial that had started on Friday, a day after the violence allegedly took place. A recording of the proceedings obtained by AFP confirmed the verdict.

DR Congo has not carried out death penalties since a moratorium was introduced in 2003. Since then, death sentences are commuted to life imprisonment.

The regional government said that in addition to the police officer killed several people were hurt and one police vehicle was burned in the fighting outside the Martyrs’ Stadium.

Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo said around 40 people were hurt and 35 had been arrested.

Two rival factions have for years disputed the leadership of the DRC’s Comico Muslim federation.

While the case remains before the courts, the two sides remain at odds and occasionally come to blows.

Around 10 percent of the DRC’s population are Muslim, most concentrated in the country’s east.

But Kinshasa on the Congo river in the west of the vast central African country also traditionally sees mass celebrations for the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in public squares and on major roads.

AFP

At Least 25 Killed In East DR Congo

PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE THE STORY: United Nations (UN) South African peacekeepers patrol a street in Oicha where an attack took place in a nearby village the day before, in Oicha, on January 29, 2020. PHOTO: ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP

 

At least 25 people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, local officials said Friday, blaming the attack on the notorious ADF militia which has slaughtered hundreds of civilians over the past year.

The army was chasing ADF fighters on Thursday when they found the bodies of 25 civilians, who had been “taken by surprise in their fields on New Year’s Eve,” Donat Kibuana, the administrator of Beni territory in North Kivu province, told AFP.

The massacre took place in the village of Tingwe, about eight kilometres (five miles) from the town of Eringeti.

The head of the civil society organisation in Tingwe, Bravo Mohindo Vukulu, put the death toll at “at least 30”.

“People had gone to their fields to prepare for New Year’s Eve, the ADF picked them up one by one,” he said.

“We had alerted our forces that the ADF had passed through from the east to the northeast of Eringeti,” he said, but added, “they did not react quickly.”

The ADF, which originated in the 1990s as a Ugandan Muslim rebel group, is one of the dozens of militias that plague the eastern provinces of the vast country.

It is blamed for the deaths of around 800 civilians over the past year in North Kivu province, which borders Uganda.

The group makes money notably through wood trafficking and DR Congo officials suspect some military are complicit in its violent raids.

The ADF has never claimed responsibility for attacks. But since April 2019, several of its assaults have been claimed by the so-called Islamic State’s Central Africa Province, without providing proof.

The United Nations said in July the group’s attacks could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.

A December 23 mid-term report by a group of UN experts which addressed the security situation in the region “characterized by pockets of intense violence.”

 

– Upsurge in violence –

The report found that in North Kivu, the armed forces “scattered the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) into several mobile groups and extended the ADF area of operations.”

On October 30, 2019, the army launched a large-scale operation against ADF strongholds, saying they had “neutralised” five of the groups’s leaders.

But that did not prevent an upsurge in violence in the first half of 2020 with UN data showing 1,315 deaths compared with 416 for the first half of the previous year.

“While supply chains were disrupted, ADF continued to attack (the armed forces) and civilians. ADF demonstrated improved knowledge of improvised explosive device construction techniques,” the UN report found.

But the report was unable to establish a direct link to the Islamic State group.

ADF attacks since November have shifted from the far north of the country southeastwards towards Mutwanga on the fringe of the Rwenzori Mountains to threaten the regional bioversity jewel and tourist attraction of Virunga National Park.

Three civilians and a soldier were killed in the most recent attack in the area on Tuesday night.

AFP

A Decade Of Plane Crashes In Residential Areas That Shook The World

A photo combination

 

A recap of the main plane crashes over the last decade in densely populated zones, after a small plane crashed into an area in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, killing 23 people.

  • July 30, 2019: At least 18 people are killed when a small military plane crashes into a residential area in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.
  • January 16, 2017: A Turkish cargo plane crashes into a village near Kyrgyzstan’s main airport, killing at least 38 people including 13 children and destroying houses after it had attempted landing in thick fog.

READ ALSO: Plane Crash Kills 23 At DR Congo City

  • June 30, 2015: An Indonesian military plane crashes shortly after takeoff and comes down in a residential area in Medan on the island of Sumatra, killing its 122 passengers and some 20 people on the ground. Several buildings are also torn apart.
  • November 30, 2012: A cargo plane crashes near the Republic of Congo’s Brazzaville’s airport, killing 32 people. All seven passengers are killed after the plane skidded off the runway when it landed in stormy weather, demolishing several homes before crashing into a ravine. The other victims were on the ground.
  • June 3, 2012: A devastating crash in Nigeria’s largest city Lagos kills 159 people including six people on the ground. The passenger jet came down in a neighbourhood in the north of the city after declaring a “mayday” and reporting both its engines having failed.
  • March 21, 2011: A cargo plane crashes down into a residential area of Pointe-Noire, the Republic of Congo’s economic capital, killing 23 people including 14 on the ground.

AFP

Second Ebola Vaccine Introduced In DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo on  Thursday introduced a second vaccine to fight a 15-month-old epidemic of Ebola in the east of the country, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said.

The new vaccine, produced by a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, will be administered to about 50,000 people over four months, the charity said.

More than a quarter of a million people, many of them frontline health workers, have been immunised with another anti-Ebola vaccine in a programme begun last year.

The epidemic began in August 2018 in the province of North Kivu before spreading to neighbouring Ituri and South Kivu — a remote and largely lawless region bordering Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The notorious haemorrhagic virus has so far killed 2,193 people, according to the latest official figures.

It is the DRC’s 10th Ebola epidemic and the second deadliest on record after an outbreak that struck West Africa in 2014-16, claiming more than 11,300 lives.

 Two-dose vaccine

Fifteen people received an injection of the new vaccine in MSF facilities in the North Kivu capital of Goma early Thursday, a spokeswoman for the charity said.

The formula is administered in two doses at 56-day intervals, and those who have received the vaccine have been reminded to return for the second shot, she said.

The disease’s epicentre is about 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Goma, a sprawling urban hub of between one and two million people on the border with Rwanda.

Four Ebola cases were recorded in the city in July and August, sparking fears the virus could spin out of control in a chaotic, mobile environment.

Efforts to combat Ebola in eastern DR Congo have been hampered by militia violence and local resistance to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.

Health workers have been attacked 300 times, leaving six people dead and 70 wounded since the start of the year.

Despite these problems, statistics point to a downward trend.

The health ministry late Wednesday said it had recorded four new cases of Ebola but no deaths, while 508 suspected cases were being monitored.

“In its current phase, the epidemic is not urban but has become rural,” Professor Jean-Jacques Muyemebe, in charge of coordinating the anti-Ebola fight, said last month.

“We have to track it down, force it into a corner and eliminate it,” he said.

Novel vaccines

The new J&J vaccine was initially rejected by DRC’s former health minister Oly Ilunga, who cited the risks of introducing a new product in communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.

But Ilunga’s resignation in July appears to have paved the way for approval of the second vaccine. He currently faces charges that he embezzled Ebola funds.

Both vaccines are novel formulas that, when they were introduced, had been tested for safety but were unlicensed, meaning that they had yet to achieve formal approval from drug authorities.

The first vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, has been given to 251,079 people, according to figures released late Wednesday.

Manufactured by the US laboratory Merck Sharpe and Dohme (MSD), the vaccine was licensed by the European Commission last week. It is being marketed under the brand name of Ervebo.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it had “prequalified” Ervebo — an important regulatory procedure that will allow the drug to be quickly deployed in future Ebola outbreaks.

Feared virus

The Ebola virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

Following incubation of up to three weeks, a high fever develops, coinciding with weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat.

This is often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The virus’s natural reservoir is suspected to be a tropical bat which does not itself fall ill but can pass on the microbe to humans who hunt it for food.

AFP

11 Dead, Dozens Missing In DR Congo Boat Accident

PICTURE USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: A picture taken on August 1, 2019, shows a general view of ships linking Goma and Bukavu on Lake Kivu, moored at the port in Goma, eastern DR Congo. PHOTO: PAMELA TULIZO / AFP

Eleven people have drowned and dozens are missing after a barge sank on a river in central Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Tuesday.

Sixteen people survived the accident on the overcrowded vessel by swimming to safety on the Lukenye river, a journalist working for a local community radio told AFP.

The disaster — the latest in a string of deadly accidents in Congolese waters — occurred a week ago in a remote and densely forested region of Kasai province where rivers are the main means of transport due to a lack of drivable roads.

“We have recovered 11 bodies and about 50 people are missing,” Kasai governor Dieudonne Pieme told AFP.

The local journalist said most of those on board were traveling to the DR Congo capital of Kinshasa.

Boat accidents are common in the vast country, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.

Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim.

In May, 32 people died in a boat accident on Lake Mai-Ndombe in the west of the country.

In April, at least 167 people died in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have lifebuoys.

AFP

82 Killed Following Ethnic violence In Western DR Congo

 

About 82 people have been killed in ethnic violence since Sunday in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s west.

George Kapiamba, head of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ) told newsmen that “There are 82 confirmed dead,”

The figures Kapiamba cited were according to witnesses, they were backed up by one man who escaped the violence.

The survivor in speaking to AFP said, “according to what I’ve learnt, there are 80 people dead”.

On Tuesday the governor of the western Mai-Ndombe province, where the violence broke out, put the provisional toll at 45 dead with more than 60 injured.

Meanwhile, earlier in December, seventeen people were killed in two attacks by the ADF militant group in the troubled Benin region of eastern DR Congo, a local mayor said Friday.

Twelve civilians died in Mangolikene on the outskirts of Beni city in North Kivu on Thursday while another five were killed overnight in the Paida area, mayor Nyonyi Masumbuko Bwanakana told AFP.

Explosions were heard overnight in Paida, according to local civil society representative Kizito Bin Hangi.

The regional army’s spokesman said the five killings in Paida happened during an attack on barracks in the city.

“We are searching for ADF (fighters),” Captain Mak Hazukay said.

The government has often blamed the group for killings, robberies, and kidnappings, but sometimes it is unclear who the true assailants are.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a shadowy armed group rooted in Ugandan Islamism that has killed hundreds of people since 2014.

ADF was forced out of Uganda and now the group operates in the border area in the DRC’s North Kivu province, an area where other armed groups are also active.

On Tuesday 11th of December, the group reportedly struck again killing nine civilians.

The massacre occurred overnight in the town of Oicha, in the Beni region, local administrator Donat Kibwana told AFP.

The assailants were suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group blamed for hundreds of killings since 2014.

“They entered Oicha late at night, they pillaged and made off with farm animals. We lost nine people in the attack,” Kibwana said.

The toll was confirmed separately by military spokesman Mak Hazukay.

“The ADF got around our position and carried out their dirty work in eastern Oicha… there are nine civilians dead,” he said.

Local teacher Prospere Kasereka said “the ADF arrived in my area around 7.30pm. They started looting, smashing down doors and firing guns.”

He added: “I fled when they got in my house. I saw the bodies of nine inhabitants this morning.”

At Least 27 Drown As Boat Capsizes In DR Congo

 

At least 27 people drowned when an overloaded riverboat capsized in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said on Wednesday.

The incident happened late on Monday night when the roof of the boat, which was overloaded with merchandise, caved in, causing the vessel to founder as it sailed down a tributary of the Congo River, some 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) from Kinshasa.

“We pulled 27 bodies from the Mongala river on Tuesday after the boat capsized overnight,” provincial governor Alpha Belo-Ngwata told AFP.

“Other bodies are still in the water. Rescue teams are trying to recover them,” he added without giving a precise toll.

Junior Mozobo, one of around 30 survivors, told AFP the boat had been packed with around 60 people, most of them merchants and students.

The roof, which had been piled high with merchandise, gave way at around 11:00 pm, collapsing onto the passengers below, he said.

The fact that the vessel was in poor condition and navigating at night had also contributed to the accident, he said.

“Within minutes, the boat sank. It all happened very fast, I was just lucky not to be under the roof,” he said.

Such boats are typically 15 to 30 metres (50-100 foot) long and up to six metres wide and can carry up to 140 tonnes of merchandise along with dozens of passengers. There are no life jackets and most people cannot swim.

Authorities were searching for the boat’s owner, who fled following the accident.

An aide to the transport minister said the boat had flaunted strict regulations banning any vessel without lights from setting sail at night.

Most operators pay little attention to security regulations or those governing the weight of merchandise carried on board, and boats often capsize on lakes and rivers.

In May, 50 people died in a similar accident on another river in the northwest of the country.

AFP

Rapper And Presidential Critic ‘Missing’ In DR Congo

A young rapper and critic of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has been “missing” since Wednesday, a spokesman for the singer told AFP on Saturday.

“Bob Elvis Masudi has been missing since Wednesday when he was on his way to his producer’s home in preparation for the release of his new album ‘Anti-mediocrity'”, spokesman Willy Kanyinda said.

“The family has not seen him since Wednesday night, he can’t be reached on his phone, and even though he’s a social media addict, he is no longer active online. Hence our concern,” said Kanyinda.

Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo told AFP he was “surprised by this affair”.

“Nobody in his family… has reported his disappearance to police,” he said.

AFP

US Welcomes Kabila’s Decision To Step Aside, And Not Seek Re-election

FILE PHOTO: President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila looking on during a meeting with the South African President at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. PHOTO: Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

The United States on Wednesday welcomed President Joseph Kabila’s decision to step aside and not seek re-election in the Democratic Republic of Congo but said more must be done to ensure a democratic transfer of power.

Kabila ended months of speculation when his government announced that former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary will be the governing party’s candidate in the December 23 presidential election.

“We welcome reports that President Kabila will not seek a third term in accordance with his country’s constitution,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.

“This development is another step, but there is much more to be done,” she added.

The national elections commission “must take all steps necessary to guarantee the Congolese people have the right to exercise their vote in free, fair, and credible elections on December 23, 2018,” she added.

The United States had pressed Kabila to step aside and declare that he would not be a candidate in the December polls, which could pave the way to the first democratic transition in the mineral-rich country.

Haley travelled to Kinshasa last year to press leaders to hold the elections after much delay.

The United States has also criticized plans to use electronic voting in the polls, saying the voting machines could undermine the credibility of the elections.

The elections have come under intense scrutiny at the Security Council, which is planning to pay a visit to the DR Congo later this year, possibly in October.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had planned to travel to Kinshasa along with African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki in July but that visit was postponed, at Kabila’s request.

The United Nations noted the announcement that Kabila’s party had nominated Ramazani Shadary as its presidential candidate.

“We welcome the continued progress towards the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections on 23 December,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

British Ambassador Karen Pierce, whose country holds the Security Council presidency, declined to comment, saying the council must first discuss the development.

The Security Council has called for a transfer of power in the DR Congo.

In power since 2001, Kabila had faced calls to step aside amid fears that the country was headed toward all-out violence as it neared the December vote.

Fresh elections should have been held in December 2016, but were then postponed until 2017 before finally being scheduled on December 23.

AFP

33 Persons Feared Killed In DR Congo Ebola Outbreak

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 1, 2018 health workers operate within an Ebola safety zone in the Health Center in Iyonda, near Mbandaka, Congo. PHOTO: JUNIOR D. KANNAH / AFP

 

A new outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo is believed to have killed 33 people in the east of the country, the health ministry said on Saturday.

Thirteen Ebola cases have been confirmed since the fresh outbreak was declared on August 1 in North Kivu province.

While just three of the fatalities have been among the 13 confirmed cases, the death toll is believed to have risen to 33, the health authorities said in a bulletin on Saturday.

Containing an Ebola outbreak in a “war zone” in the Democratic Republic of Congo is among the most difficult challenges the World Health Organisation has faced, a top WHO official said on Friday.

In North Kivu, health workers will have to navigate their response among more than 100 armed groups, 20 of whom are “highly active,” WHO’s emergency response chief Peter Salama told reporters.

The outbreak in North Kivu in eastern DRC was declared a week after WHO and the Kinshasa government hailed the end of an earlier Ebola flareup in northwestern Equateur province, which killed 33 people.

As with the earlier outbreak,”vaccinations will be an integral part of the response,” the health ministry said Saturday.

The latest outbreak of the haemorrhagic virus is the 10th in the DRC since 1976, when it was discovered in the north of the country, then called Zaire, and named after a river nearby.

In Geneva, the World Health Organization said most of the new cases were recorded in the district of Mangina, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the city of Beni.

“This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population,” the WHO said.

One of the world’s most feared diseases, Ebola is a virus-caused haemorrhagic fever that in extreme cases causes fatal bleeding from internal organs, the mouth, eyes or ears.

It has a natural host in a species of tropical African fruit bats, from which it is believed to leap to humans who kill and butcher the animals for food.

In the worst outbreak of Ebola, the disease struck the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15, killing more than 11,300 people.

The DRC authorities were alerted to the recent outbreak by the death of a 65-year-old woman in Mangina in late July.

After she was buried members of her family began to display symptoms of the virus “and seven of them have died,” the ministry said Saturday.

Probable Ebola cases have also been registered in neighbouring Ituri province.

While insisting that all means available were being used to stop the latest outbreak, Doctor Ndjoloko Tambwe Bathe, who is heading the fight against the virus, told the UN’s news website Okapi that “we can not tell you whether we are making good progress or not”.

AFP

DR Congo Blocks Return Of Exiled Opposition Leader Katumbi

In this file photo taken on April 27, 2018 Congolese opposition politician Moise Katumbi speaking to the media during the Ibrahim Governance Weekend, the annual flagship event of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, in Kigali. PHOTO: Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi, who is seeking to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo to contest elections, will be refused entry to the country, said Ghislain Robert Lubara, the mayor of his former stronghold of Lubumbashi.

The former governor of the mineral-rich southern province of Katanga, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since May 2016 after falling out with President Joseph Kabila, had intended to fly home on Friday.

But Lubara on Thursday announced that he could not allow him to return as planned to the southeastern city.

“I regret to inform you that I cannot agree to your request,” Lubara said, invoking “airspace and landing non authorization” and an “active judicial file” concerning Katumbi.

“Lubumbashi is a city of peace and would like to consolidate this achievement,” he added.

Earlier Thursday, aides to Katumbi met with United Nations officials to discuss his return, sources said.

He had filed flight plans to arrive in the provincial capital of Lubumbashi on Friday.

If he does return, however, he faces possible arrest after being handed a three-year jail term in absentia in June 2016 in a case of alleged property fraud. He has also been accused of hiring mercenaries and for possessing an Italian passport — Congolese law does not allow double nationality. He denies all charges.

A leader of Katumbi’s election party, Ensemble, said there was concern about “security risks” in the light of “events” that occurred on Wednesday, when former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba returned to Kinshasa.

“There are risks of breakdowns which could put civilians and political figures such as Katumbi in danger,” said Delly Sesanga, Ensemble’s secretary general.

The UN peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, confirmed a meeting had taken place, in the context of its “good offices” in the DRC.

But MONUSCO’S spokeswoman, Florence Marchal, added that its “mission is not to ensure the protection of (individual) personalities”.

The Congolese NGO Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ) said in a statement that the minister of justice should “stop the political pressure” to “arbitrarily arrest” Katumbi.

Kabila’s 17-year rule has been criticised for rights abuses, corruption and incompetence.

He was scheduled to stand down at the end of 2016 after his second elected term, technically the last permitted under the constitution.

But he has stayed in office, invoking a constitutional clause enabling him to remain in power until a successor is elected.

He has refused to spell out whether he will seek a new term in the vote. The elections, twice postponed, are due to take place on December 23.

Dozens have died in anti-Kabila protests amid the mounting political uncertainty.

On Wednesday, former warlord and ex-vice president Bemba — another declared election contender — flew into Kinshasa to a triumphant welcome from tens of thousands of supporters.

The ex-rebel leader spent the last 11 years abroad, a decade of it behind bars.

He travelled to the electoral commission on Thursday to file his candidacy for the presidential election.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague acquitted him of war-crimes charges in June.

AFP