40 Burundi Rebels Killed In East DR Congo

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, 2020, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Alexis Huguet / AFP

 

Forty Burundian rebels have been killed in a joint offensive by the militaries of Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi in eastern DRC, a Congolese army spokesman said on Sunday.

The two armies “carried out a high-intensity offensive operation” against Burundian rebels of the National Liberation Forces (FNL), Lieutenant Marc Elongo-Kyondwa said in a statement.

The enemy “suffered a heavy loss of men and equipment: 40 attackers neutralised (killed),” he said.

The two armies “dislodged” the FNL “from all the four hills overlooking the town of Nabombi,” considered a command post of the FNL’s self-proclaimed general Aloys Nzabampema, he added.

The Congolese army called on local people to cooperate with the regular forces and “young people to dissociate themselves from armed groups”, the statement quoted Congolese General Major Ramazani Fundi, commander of operations in the southern part of the province, as saying.

The FNL is a branch of Agathon Rwasa’s former rebel group, now the main political opposition in Burundi.

Since August, Burundian soldiers charged with fighting armed groups have been officially present in DRC’s South Kivu region, as part of the Community of East African States (EAC) force.

In June, the EAC decided to set up a regional force, comprising the Kenyan and Ugandan armies alongside Congolese soldiers in North Kivu and Ituri, the South Sudanese army in Haut-Uele and Burundians in South Kivu.

Kinshasa, which accuses Rwanda of actively supporting M23 rebels in North Kivu, has refused to allow Kigali to take part in the force.

For nearly 30 years, the east of the DRC has been plagued by violent armed groups, some local, others made up of militiamen from neighbouring countries.

DR Congo Sends Warplanes Against Advancing M23 Rebels

DR Congo flag.

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo deployed two warplanes against advancing M23 militants on Thursday in the country’s volatile east, sources said, after a regional bloc called for rebels to disarm.

Tanks and two fighter jets targeted rebel positions in the town of Kibumba at noon, according to a resident who spoke to AFP via telephone from the region’s main city Goma.

M23 fighters recently captured the town in North Kivu province, which lies just 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Goma, a commercial hub of one million people.

A security official, who requested anonymity, confirmed the warplane strikes. “We have hope, we are moving forward,” he told AFP.

The retaliation by Congolese forces comes as the M23 has been pushing closer towards Goma, sparking fears of an attack on the city.

Drawn mostly from Congolese Tutsis, the rebel group has recently captured swathes of territory across North Kivu.

The advance has triggered a humanitarian crisis and a showdown with Rwanda — which the DRC accuses of backing the M23.

Local residents and administrative officials told AFP that the M23 has also begun a push westwards into North Kivu’s Masisi territory, from its stronghold near the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

“The rebels are here,” a resident of Tongo, a town lying on the road leading to Masisi territory, said on Thursday.

An official in the local administration, who requested anonymity, also told AFP late Wednesday that M23 fighters had entered his office.

The DRC’s army has yet to communicate officially about the rebel advance.

Thousands of people marched against the M23 in protests held across the country on Thursday, including more than 15,000 in the capital Kinshasa, according to the organisers.

Fleeing the enemy

Thousands of people packed their belongings and headed towards Goma on Tuesday, amid rumours of a rebel advance, after troops were seen fleeing.

The following day, a military tribunal in Goma sentenced three to death for “cowardice” and having “fled before the enemy,” among other charges, a court official said.

In practice, the death penalty in the DRC is commuted to life imprisonment.

On Wednesday, the head of the newly created East African Community (EAC) military force in eastern DR Congo, Jeff Nyagah, said that rebels must pursue political negotiations and disarm.

“Those who fail or refuse to voluntarily disarm, then we’ll go for them,” the Kenyan general warned.

Nyagah also vowed that the EAC force would protect Goma.

Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta, a mediator for the crisis for the seven-nation EAC, had on Tuesday also urged militants to lay down their arms and engage in negotiations.

The EAC has called for a “peace dialogue” in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on November 21.

France’s foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned the latest violence and urged the M23 to withdraw from its occupied territory, according to a statement.

Rebel resurgence

Over 120 armed groups are active across eastern Congo, many of which are a legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century.

The M23 first leapt to prominence in 2012 when it captured Goma, before being driven out and going to ground.

But the rebel group re-emerged late last year, claiming that the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances.

Despite official denials from Kigali, an unpublished report for the United Nations seen by AFP in August pointed to Rwandan involvement with the M23.

Rwanda accuses Kinshasa of colluding with Hutu militants who fled across the border after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The DRC denies this.

AFP

Three Killed In DR Congo Over Fight For Food

DR Congo flag.

 

Three people have been killed in scuffles over food aid at a displaced persons’ camp in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, sources said on Friday.

Local officials on Thursday brought food to Kanyarucyinya camp, a facility housing around 17,500 people near the city of Goma, but decided to distribute the aid the following morning, camp chief Theo Musekura said.

The decision angered some of the displaced people, provoking scuffles in which three people were killed, he told AFP.

Some of the displaced were shot and others trampled, Musekura added.

Two displaced people at Kanyarucyinya also confirmed that three people had been killed, explaining that police officers had opened fire in a bid to disperse the crowd.

A security official who requested anonymity said that two people had been shot dead and one trampled to death, and five wounded, he added.

Some witnesses said the scuffles broke out because people were trying to steal the food.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll. Colonel Patrick Molengo, the local police administrator, did not respond to questions.

READ ALSO: Kenya Sending Troops To DR Congo To Fight Rebel Advance

Many of the camp’s residents have fled fighting between the M23 militia and the army, with rebels capturing swathes of new territory in recent weeks and displacing tens of thousands of people.

A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 first leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before being driven out.

After laying dormant for years, the group resumed fighting in late 2021, claiming that the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.

The rebels have won a string of victories against the Congolese army in North Kivu in recent weeks, dramatically increasing the territory under their control.

Their resurgence has destabilised regional relations in central Africa, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the militia.

An estimated 183,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu since October 20, according to the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA.

AFP

Kenya Sending Troops To DR Congo To Fight Rebel Advance

President Ruto during the unveiling of the cabinet. [email protected] WilliamsRuto

 

Kenya’s President William Ruto announced Wednesday that Nairobi was deploying troops to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in a joint regional operation against a rebel offensive.

The mineral-rich DRC is struggling to contain dozens of armed groups whose recent advances in the country’s east have revived old animosities and led to a surge in tensions with neighbouring Rwanda.

Leaders of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) bloc, in which Kenya is the regional heavyweight, agreed in April to establish a joint force to help restore security in the DRC.

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Speaking at a ceremony in Nairobi to announce the deployment, Ruto said the troops were “on a mission to protect humanity”.

“The destiny of DRC is intertwined with ours,” he added, without giving details of the deployment schedule.

“We will not allow any armed groups, criminals and terrorists to deny us our shared prosperity.”

Kenya will command the force, which will also include soldiers from Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda.

A Rwandan contingent will be deployed along the border, after Kinshasa objected to Kigali’s participation in any operations within the DRC.

‘Military escalation’

Military officials in Nairobi declined to reveal the number of Kenyan soldiers involved, citing “obvious security reasons”.

A UN force, known by its French acronym of MONUSCO, is already operating in the DRC.

Burundi and Uganda also sent troops to the DRC earlier at the invitation of the Congolese government.

The M23 rebels, a mostly Congolese group, resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, accusing the DRC government of failing to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.

Fresh advances by the militia across North Kivu province last month prompted the UN peacekeeping mission there to increase its alert level and boost support for the Congolese army.

The M23’s resurgence has had resounding repercussions for relations in central Africa.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the militia, claims denied by Kigali.

On Saturday, Kinshasa decided to expel Rwanda’s ambassador. In turn, Rwanda accused Kinshasa of being “on the path of continued military escalation.”

Calls for ceasefire

The increase in violence has alarmed the international community, with the African Union appealing for a ceasefire.

Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye and current EAC chairman said on Tuesday he held talks with his regional counterparts on “managing the security crisis” and agreed to hold a summit at a yet-to-be-announced date.

The EAC comprises Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

M23 first leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before a joint Congolese-UN offensive drove it out.

The militia is one of scores of armed groups in eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared late last century.

The groups include the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group based in the DRC which Kigali views as a threat and has regularly accused Kinshasa of supporting.

While Rwanda has denied backing M23, a report by independent UN experts seen by AFP in August found that Kigali had provided direct support to the militia.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot — is also active in the region and is accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bombings in neighbouring Uganda.

Eleven Die In Stampede At Fally Ipupa Concert In DR Congo

Fally Ipupa, Congolese singer-songwriter, performs during the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football tournament at Stade d’Olembé in Yaounde on January 9, 2022. Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

 

A stampede left nine spectators and two police officers dead during a packed concert by African music star Fally Ipupa at the biggest stadium in DR Congo’s capital, the interior minister said Sunday, blaming the organisers.

Too many people had been allowed into Kinshasa’s 80,000 capacity Martyrs’ stadium on Saturday night, Interior Minister Daniel Aselo Okito told the Actualite.cd news website.

“Eleven people dead… including two police,” the minister told reporters at the stadium, sending condolences to relatives of the casualties.

He deplored the frequent “loss of human life and damage to equipment” during events held at the stadium.


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The organisers “went beyond 100 percent capacity… they must be punished”, the minister said.

“It was a stampede,” that caused the deaths, a policeman on the scene told the official Congolese Press Agency ACP.

“The music-lovers suffocated.”

Kinshasa police chief General Sylvain Sasongo had earlier told ACP nine people had died, amid reports the venue had been absolutely jammed with people for the local favourite’s performance, with one witness saying “even the corridors” of the stadium were overflowing.

ACP, which had reporters in the stadium covering the concert, said police had cordoned off three areas to secure the pitch, the VIP stand and the stage.

“Under the pressure of the crowd, the police could not hold out long,” ACP said.

Singer-songwriter Fally Ipupa, “like all Congolese singers”, had arrived several hours after the show had been scheduled to start, the agency noted.

The Kinshasa-born 44-year-old is one of Africa’s leading musicians whose albums sell world-wide.

14 Civilians Killed In DR Congo Militia Attack

DR Congo flag.

 

Fighters from a notorious militia hacked 14 civilians to death in an attack in eastern DR Congo, local officials said Sunday, in the latest violence to hit the turbulent region.

Suspected ADF militants on Saturday evening entered Kyamata, in Ituri province’s Banyali Tchabi chiefdom, and killed 14 people “by machete”, said Jacques Anayey Bandingama, the head of a local youth group.

The fighters also wounded two others and torched 36 houses in the village, he added.

Banyali Tchabi Chief Etienne Babanilau Tchabi confirmed the death toll to AFP and said that the victims had been buried in a common grave.

“This attack threatens the return of my people,” he told AFP. “My chiefdom is empty. Seventy percent of people are displaced.”

Armed groups have roamed the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of Congo for decades, many of them a legacy of wars that flared in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot — is among the most violent of more than 120 movements active in the region.

It has been accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in neighbouring Uganda.

Faustin Mboma Babanilau, the president of a cultural association in Banyali Tchabi, blamed the attack on a lack of army presence in the area.

“In the office of the chiefdom, for example, there are only two soldiers,” he said. “Go figure.”

Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, a Congolese army spokesman, condemned the attack and appealed for calm.

“Our services are on the ground and will be able to give us the final toll,” he told AFP.

The DRC and Uganda launched a joint offensive against the ADF in November 2021, but the militia continues to wreak havoc across swathes of territory.

Faced with continued attacks from various militias, the Congolese government last year also placed Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province under emergency administration in a bid to quell the violence.

Under this so-called “state of siege”, the government replaced senior civilian officials with members of the security forces. Attacks have continued, however.

AFP

Uganda Confirms Six More Cases Of Ebola, One Death

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical workers checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.
CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Six new cases of Ebola have been found in Uganda, the World Health Organization said Thursday after the country reported its first fatality from the highly contagious virus since 2019.

Uganda’s health ministry declared an Ebola outbreak in the central district of Mubende on Tuesday, announcing the death of a 24-year-old man.

“So far, seven cases, including one death, have been confirmed to have contracted the Sudan ebolavirus,” the WHO said in a statement, referring to a relatively rare strain of the virus.

“Forty-three contacts have been identified and 10 people suspected to have caught the virus are receiving treatment at the regional referral hospital in Mubende,” it said.

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“Our experts are already on the ground working with Uganda’s experienced Ebola control teams to reinforce surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures,” said Abdou Salam Gueye, regional emergency director with the WHO Regional Office for Africa.

Uganda — which shares a porous border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — has experienced several Ebola outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2019, when at least five people died.

The DRC last month recorded a new case in its violence-wracked east, less than six weeks after an epidemic in the country’s northwest was declared over.

Ebola is an often fatal viral haemorrhagic fever. The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

First identified in 1976 in the DRC (then Zaire), the virus, whose natural host is the bat, has since set off a series of epidemics in Africa, killing around 15,000 people.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

At present, there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighbouring countries.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.

AFP

DR Congo Fuel Truck Blast Kills At Least 7

 

A file photo of the scene of a tanker explosion.

 

At least seven people were killed and 16 others badly burned when a tanker truck exploded in a village in western Democratic Republic of Congo, a provincial chief said Thursday.

The blast occurred overnight in the village of Mbuba, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of the capital Kinshasa, Kongo Central provincial governor Guy Bandu tweeted.

Mbuba lies on the busy RN1 highway linking Kinshasa to the ports of Matadi and Boma.


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More than 50 people were killed in a fuel-tanker blast in the same village in October 2018.

“It is high time to take bold and drastic measures to strengthen transport regulations, especially for flammable products, to end to this cycle of accidents,” the provincial governor tweeted.

Later in the day, Bandu gave the toll of seven dead and 16 badly burned in the latest blast, stressing that the figures were provisional.

Mabiala Khonde, a civil-society representative in the area who passed the scene of the accident, said the truck had toppled over and was leaking fuel.

“People were running to collect the fuel,” he told AFP by telephone from Matadi. “Several minutes after we heard an explosion”.

Uganda Pays First $65m To DR Congo As War Reparations

In this file photo, an employee shows US dollar banknotes at a foreign currency brokerage office in Khartoum on October 7, 2018.  ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

 

Uganda has made the first payment towards a $325 million bill it was ordered to pay by a UN court for invading eastern DR Congo during the Second Congo War, the Congolese government said.

Uganda transferred $65 million to its western neighbour on September 1, according to minutes of a cabinet meeting released at the weekend.

The sum is the first of five annual payments Kinshasa was awarded in damages and interest by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February, Justice Minister Rose Mutombo told ministers on Friday.

The decision was issued after a years-long legal battle mounted by Kinshasa for Uganda’s invasion in the 1998-2003 conflict.

At its height, the conflict drew in nine African countries, with Uganda and Rwanda backing rebel forces against the Congolese government as they jostled for control of mineral-rich Ituri province.

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The ICJ said that of the $325 million, $225 million was for loss of life, $40 million for property damage and $60 million for damage to natural resources.

DR Congo had demanded $11 billion.

The money is being held in a Congolese bank in a provisional justice ministry account, the cabinet was told.

It cannot be used until a special compensation fund for victims becomes operational.

Kampala lashed the ruling as unjust and incorrect, noting it was delivered as relations between the two countries have been improving.

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo launched a joint operation last November against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a bloody militia that the Islamic State group says is its central African affiliate.

AFP

DR Congo Rebels Kill 17 Civilians, Says Civil Society

DR Congo flag.

 

Seventeen people died Friday during a militia attack on a village in northeastern DR Congo, a local civil society head announced.

Gunmen from the feared CODECO militia stormed Mbidjo in Ituri province’s Djugu territory during the morning, said Jules Uwechi, chairman of the village’s civil society group.

“They opened fire, set houses ablaze and pillaged the property of villagers… I myself narrowly escaped,” Uwechi said in the provincial capital Bunia.

“When we went back we found 17 people had been killed — seven women, eight men and two children.”


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Eleven of the bodies had been buried in a mass grave.

The army and the territory’s administrator said by early evening they were not in a position to confirm the death toll.

But Uwechis explained, “There are no soldiers (at Mbidjo), there was no intervention against the militia.”

After the assault, the attackers returned to their stronghold some 10 kilometres (six miles) away, he added.

CODECO or Cooperative for the Development of the Congo is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

It is considered one of the deadliest of the more than 120 militias operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, and has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in Ituri.

Last year, Congo’s government put security officials in charge of gold-rich Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence, but the attacks continue.

France Seizes $5.2m Property Linked To Congo President’s Son

Republic of Congo map.

 

French prosecutors said Friday they had seized a house in the Paris suburbs linked to the son of the president of the Republic of the Congo, in a probe into suspected “ill-gotten gains”.

The property in upscale Neuilly-sur-Seine, linked to Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, “was seized in June”, the office of the National Financial Prosecutor (PNF) confirmed to AFP after a report by investigative news site Mediapart.

However, they added that “Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso has so far not been charged”.

Citing police documents, Mediapart reported that the townhouse was bought in 2009 for 5.2 million euros ($5.2 million) before being renovated for a further 5.4 million, and was “definitely” home to Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso and his family.

One of the owners of the property holding company that owns the building is the Congolese minister’s chief of protocol, known to be one of Sassou Nguesso’s “strawmen”, the site added, citing an investigation by the OCRGDF serious financial crimes unit.

“I’m outraged that France, with its history as a colonial and slave-holding great power, is now coming to lay blame at African leaders’ feet,” Sassou Nguesso’s lawyer Jean-Jacques Neuer said.

“Many very ill-gotten gains that belong to Africans are in French hands,” he added.

Neuer insisted that the investigation of his client was “political and not judicial”.

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A 2007 complaint by watchdogs prompted Paris anti-corruption investigators to look more closely into the dealings of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, a former paratrooper who first came to power in the central African nation in 1979.

He and his family, as well as the Bongo family in power in Gabon, are believed to have misused public funds to acquire property empires in France.

Sassou Nguesso’s son Denis Christel appears several times in the case files, singled out for his “exorbitant lifestyle” in a PNF document from 2019.

“The amount of property seized is at first glance very limited compared to the flood of embezzlement, but Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso is a first-rank player,” said William Bourdon, a lawyer representing corruption watchdog Transparency International France, a civil plaintiff in the case.

“Given the weight of evidence, his denials are pathetic and insulting to the judges and to France,” he added.

At least five members of the Nguesso family have come into investigators’ sights since 2017.

Earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s uncle had a conviction upheld by France’s top judicial court using a new law on ill-gotten gains introduced last year.

The Court of Cassation confirmed 85-year-old Rifaat al-Assad’s sentence of four years in jail — which he is unlikely to serve due to his age and ill health — as well as confirming the confiscation of a 90-million-euro property empire.

The Republic of Congo is also called Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its larger neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

AFP

18 Killed In Western DR Congo Clashes

(FILES) An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, 2020.  Alexis Huguet / AFP

 

Eighteen people were killed in clashes between two communities in the western Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this month, according to a government report seen by AFP Sunday.

Fighting broke out between the Yaka and Teke people following a dispute over taxes and land, people in Mai-Ndombe province told AFP.

Members of the Teke community consider themselves the original inhabitants of villages spread over 200 kilometers (124 miles) along the Congo River.

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In early August there was knifepoint fighting with the Yaka community, who settled afterward, in the town of Kwamouth, about 100 kilometers from the capital Kinshasa.

“In the conflict between the Yaka and Teke in the province of Mai-Ndombe, 18 people were killed, including nine on the side of Yaka of Masia, including the chief of the land and his wife,” said Culture Minister Catherine Kathungu in the minutes of the Council of Ministers.

She added: “175 houses were burnt down and an AK47 weapon belonging to an element of the Congolese National Police was taken away by the Teke assailants”.

Rita Bola, the governor of Mai-Ndombe province, said Kwamouth was “calm now”.

“The army is now deployed all around to secure the population”, Bola said.

Members of the Yaka community had refused to pay a “customary royalty” to traditional Teke chiefs, said Abbe Felicien Boduka, president of the Justice and Peace Commission of the diocese of Inongo in Mai-Ndombe.

“We Yaka no longer wanted to pay this tax because the Constitution allows Congolese to settle freely anywhere on the national territory,” Gregoire Losoto, a development worker who abandoned his cassava fields and fish ponds in Kwamouth told AFP.

“The situation worsened in August because the Yaka installed their customary chief to replace a former Teke customary chief,” he said.

The Yaka chief and his wife were killed “by assailants”, according to several witnesses interviewed by AFP.

AFP