Lumumba’s Remains Arrive In DR Congo 


A portrait of slain Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba is carried as his remains leave for Shilatembo where the leader was killed along with two of his compatriots, at the airport in Lubumbashi on June 26, 2022.  Guerchom Ndebo / AFP

 

Slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba’s only surviving remains, a single tooth, arrived in Kinshasa on Monday where it is due to be laid to rest later this week.

The nationalist politician became an anti-colonial icon when he delivered a fiery speech against racism on June 30, 1960, when his native central African country proclaimed independence from Belgium.

But Lumumba, the country’s first post-independence prime minister, was overthrown that September.

Separatists from the southern region of Katanga and Belgian mercenaries then executed him and two close supporters in January 1961.

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His body was dissolved in acid after he was killed, but a Belgian police officer kept the tooth as a trophy. Belgian authorities in 2016 seized the relic from his daughter.

On June 20, Belgium finally returned the tooth to Lumumba’s family members during a ceremony in Brussels.

Lumumba’s remains were then transported to his native Democratic Republic of Congo, for a tour of the vast nation that included the southeastern region where he was assassinated.

On Monday, the independence hero’s tooth arrived in the capital Kinshasa for the final leg of the tour, in a coffin draped in the Congolese flag.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi received the remains at Kinshasa’s international airport, where he bowed before the coffin.

Lumumba’s tooth is due to be laid to rest in a ceremony in Kinshasa on Thursday — the 62nd anniversary of independence from Belgium and his historic speech.

AFP

Remains Of Independence Hero Lumumba Return To DR Congo

A woman holds a portrait next to the coffin of Democratic Republic of Congo’s first prime minister and independence hero Patrice Lumumba during a tribute ceremony at The Congolese Embassy before the departure of his last remains to DR Congo in Brussels on June 21, 2022. 
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

The coffin of slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba returns to his homeland on Wednesday for an emotionally charged tour and burial, more than six decades after his assassination.

A plane will take Lumumba’s last remains — a tooth that ex-colonial power Belgium handed over to his family on Monday — from Brussels to Kinshasa for a nine-day trip around the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The coffin and an accompanying delegation will then fly to the central province of Sankuru, where the country’s first post-independence leader was born in the village of Onalua in 1925.

The remains will visit sites symbolically important to Lumumba’s life and be laid to rest in a mausoleum in the capital Kinshasa on June 30, following three days of national mourning.

“His spirit, which was imprisoned in Belgium, comes back here,” said Onalua Maurice Tasombo Omatuku, a traditional chief and nephew of Lumumba.

Finally able to mourn his uncle but knowing he was assassinated in 1961, Omatuku said he was feeling emotionally torn.

‘The Son Is Returning’

Onalua, which since 2013 has been part of a commune named Lumumbaville in honour of the anti-colonial leader, was on Tuesday preparing to welcome back its favourite son.

Braving the oppressive heat, men cleared sand, tree branches and grass from the road leading to the neighbouring town of Tshumbe under police supervision.

Palm leaves, used as a symbol of mourning or celebration, were being installed by the roadside next to Congolese flags.

A podium in the national colours of yellow, blue and red, tents and banners bearing Lumumba’s face were erected in the village square where the coffin was set to arrive.

A local resident pointed to a large, unfinished concrete house falling into dilapidation, with much of its roof missing.

“That’s the family plot where Lumumba was born,” he said.

Catherine Mbutshu said she felt joy at the idea that Lumumba’s “relic” were finally returning to the land of his forefathers.

“I’m old, my legs hurt, but I’m happy because the son is returning,” said the woman believed to have once known Lumumba.

“I spoke with him before his departure for Kisangani,” his political bastion in northeastern Congo, she said.

Lumumba earned his place in history as an anti-colonial icon when the DRC proclaimed independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960, delivering a fiery speech against settler racism.

He was overthrown that September before separatists from the southern region of Katanga and Belgian mercenaries executed him and two close supporters, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, on January 17, 1961.

‘Worthy Burial’

Lumumba’s body was dissolved in acid and never recovered.

Decades passed before human remains were discovered in Belgium, after a Belgian police officer who took part in Lumumba’s death boasted about his actions in the media. Belgian authorities seized the tooth from the officer in 2016.

In a solemn ceremony in Brussels on Monday, a casket containing the tooth was placed in a coffin that Belgium handed over to the Congolese authorities in the presence of Lumumba’s family.

“Father, we mourned your passing without performing the funeral prayer… our duty as descendants was to offer a worthy burial,” said his daughter Juliana.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo apologised again for his country’s “moral responsibility” in Lumumba’s death.

Two weeks before, Belgium’s King Philippe on his first trip to the DRC reiterated his “deepest regrets for the wounds” of Belgian colonial rule.

Historians say millions of people were killed, mutilated or died of disease as they were forced to collect rubber under Belgian rule.

The land was also pillaged for its mineral wealth, timber and ivory.

East Africa Leaders Meet On DR Congo Conflict

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.

 

East African leaders met in Kenya on Monday to discuss the security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s violence-torn east.

The meeting comes as heavy fighting revives decades-old animosities between Kinshasa and Kigali, with the DRC blaming neighbouring Rwanda for the recent resurgence of the M23 militia.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied backing the rebels, while both countries have accused each other of carrying out cross-border shelling.

After weeks of sabre-rattling, the leaders of six of the seven nations in the East African Community (EAC) met in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to discuss the way forward.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi joined the leaders of Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda as well as Tanzania’s ambassador to Nairobi.

“The crisis in Congo need(s) a collective approach from all regional members of the East African Community,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Twitter after the meeting got under way.

“We must insist on working together because these people have suffered a lot,” said Museveni.

His government has sent in troops to help Congolese forces fight the Allied Democratic Forces, a militia group blamed for thousands of deaths in eastern Congo and a string of bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

– Call for British pressure –

After M23 rebels captured the border town of Bunagana, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for the deployment of a regional EAC force in eastern DRC to restore peace, but Kinshasa said it would not accept Rwanda’s participation in the operation.

Tshisekedi has accused Rwanda of seeking “to occupy our land, rich in gold, coltan and cobalt, for their own exploitation and profit” and urged the international community to condemn Kigali.

He has urged Britain particular to “pressure Rwanda to withdraw its troops from our land”, noting London’s controversial agreement to send asylum seekers to Kigali.

“Given the UK’s recent $150 million immigration deal struck with Rwanda, we hope that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be able to leverage his influence,” Tshisekedi said.

Rwanda is due to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this week.

The mineral-rich DRC is struggling to contain dozens of armed groups in the east of the vast nation, many of which are a legacy of two regional wars a quarter of a century ago.

A primarily Congolese Tutsi militia, the M23 or “March 23 Movement” leapt to global prominence in 2012 when it captured Goma.

It was forced out shortly afterwards in a joint offensive by UN troops and the Congolese army.

The group took up arms again in late November, having accused the Kinshasa government of failing to respect a 2009 agreement that involved incorporating its fighters into the army.

Relations between Kinshasa and Kigali have been strained since the mass arrival in the DRC of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Tensions Rise Ahead Of DR Congo Presidential Election

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

 

DR Congo’s presidential election is over a year away, but political tensions are escalating in the vast and volatile country as candidates line up and fears grow the vote will be fraudulent.

Elections in the central African nation frequently turn violent, with dozens of protesters killed. They are also often criticised by observers.

But the last presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2018, heralded the first peaceful transfer of power in Kinshasa since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The vote was nonetheless marred by accusations of irregularities and the European Union and others cast doubt over its credibility.

According to official results, incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi won, replacing former leader Joseph Kabila after 18 years in power.

Tshisekedi has declared he will stand for president again in a poll planned for late 2023.

However, fears of tampering are already stalking the electoral process, and pressures around political circles in the capital have begun to mount.

Tshisekedi’s ruling coalition in the national assembly recently rejected an amendment to electoral law that would have banned politicians from distributing money during campaigns, for example.

It also struck down an effort to force the publication of votes by polling station. At present, DR Congo’s electoral commission publishes a single tally of results.

“With these rejections, the electoral law enshrines tampering and fraud,” said opposition MP Claudel Lubaya.

Martin Fayulu, a politician who claims he was robbed of victory in the 2018 election, told AFP that if Tshisekedi wins the 2023 poll “the country will be at war”.

Fayulu, along with former president Kabila, who retains swathes of popular support, have both announced that they will contest the coming election.

– Little confidence –

On May 10, the president of the constitutional court Dieudonne Kaluba was removed from his position after a process of drawing lots for the role.

The unusual method for picking the role had never before been used in the country, and it raised suspicion the government was trying to control the court, which has the final say over disputed elections.

In November, the court under Kaluba had dropped a corruption inquiry into former prime minister Augustin Matata — who is also running for president next year.

There are whispers of interference at the electoral commission too.

Prominent Catholic and Protestant groups in DR Congo recently criticised Tshisekedi for allegedly placing a close friend in charge of the commission, for example.

Tresor Kibangula, an analyst at New York University’s Congo Research Group think tank, said recent developments do not bode well for the future.

“The process does not enjoy the confidence of many people,” he said, referring to the run-up to the 2023 poll.

There are also doubts about whether the election will take place next year.

The electoral commission, for example, has complained of receiving “homeopathic doses” — or insufficient funds — to organise the vote.

The DR Congo is notoriously corrupt. It ranked 169th out of 180 nations on Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index.

And far away from Kinshasa, much of the east of the nation of 90 million people is also prey to myriad armed groups and civilian massacres are a regular occurrence.

DR Congo Starts Vaccination Against Ebola Outbreak

This file photo taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated.  CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday launched a vaccination campaign after two people died of Ebola in the northwestern town of Mbandaka, the World Health Organization’s Africa office announced.

It’s the 14th outbreak of the killer virus in the country since 1976, including six since 2018.

“Over the years, with the support of WHO and other partners and donors, the country has developed homegrown expertise capable of mounting effective Ebola response,” said a statement from the UN’s health arm.

“With effective vaccines at hand and the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo health workers in Ebola response, we can quickly change the course of this outbreak for the better,” said WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.

READ ALSOOver One Million Children In Africa Have Taken Malaria Vaccine – WHO

Some 200 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine have been shipped to Mbandaka, in Equator province, from the eastern city of Goma, with more doses to be delivered in the coming days.

The vaccination campaign uses the “ring strategy” where all contacts of confirmed Ebola patients, and contacts of contacts are jabbed along with frontline and health workers.

The first of the two confirmed deaths concerned a young man who died in hospital on April 21.

WHO said so far 233 contacts have been identified around Mbandaka and are being monitored.

A 20-bed Ebola treatment centre has also been set up in the town.

Ebola killed 55 people out of 130 registered cases at Mbandaka in 2020.

Experts say that since 2018 Ebola epidemics have become cyclical from April to June in Equator province and over the following months in the northeastern provinces of Kivu and Ituri.

Last year nine people died from Ebola out of 11 cases in North-Kivu’s Beni city.

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the DR Congo, then known as Zaire.

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

AFP

DR Congo Confirms New Ebola Case

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

 

A new case of the Ebola virus has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s health officials said. 

The new case was confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the north-western Equateur Province. This is the third outbreak in the province since 2018.

The 31-year-old patient began showing symptoms of the disease on April 5 after staying more than a week at home, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa, explained.

But on 21 April, the patient was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre for intensive care. He died later that day, prompting health workers to immediately begin the submission of samples to test for the Ebola virus disease.

“Time is not on our side,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

“The disease has had a two-week head start and we are now playing catch-up. The positive news is that health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have more experience than anyone else in the world at controlling Ebola outbreaks quickly.”

The country is experiencing its fourteenth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The present one is the sixth since 2018. Previous outbreaks in Equateur Province were in 2020 and 2018, with 130 and 54 reported cases respectively.

Efforts to curb the spread of the disease including vaccination are being ramped up. Vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and administered via the ‘ring vaccination strategy.

“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease,” said Dr Moeti.

“All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be revaccinated.”

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

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

DR Congo Condemns US Police Shooting Of Its Expat

 Demonstrators protesting the killing of Patrick Lyoya gather in front of the Grand Rapids police station on April 15, 2022 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP
Demonstrators protesting the killing of Patrick Lyoya gather in front of the Grand Rapids police station on April 15, 2022 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

 

Kinshasa has condemned the shooting by a white US police officer of one of its emigrants nearly two weeks ago, according to a transcript of a government meeting seen on Saturday.

Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old whose family reportedly immigrated to the United States in 2014 as they fled war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed during a traffic stop in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan on April 4 by a white police officer.

He became the latest in a grim litany of black people dying at the hands of police in the United States that has ignited widespread protests against racism and demands for reform.

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During a government meeting on Friday, DR Congo Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde “forcefully condemned the cowardly assassination by a white police officer in the United States of a citizen of Congolese origin Patrick Lyoya, unarmed, during a traffic stop,” according to the minutes of the meeting.

He said the US ambassador in DR Congo had expressed “his deep regrets and his government’s condolences following this despicable act.”

US police have released four videos from the incident, one of which shows the officer — who has not been named — lying on top of Lyoya as the two scuffled, and then appearing to shoot him in the head.

UN Concerned By Resurgence Of M23 Rebel Movement In DR Congo

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.

 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is alarmed by the resurgence of the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his spokesman said Wednesday without directly blaming these fighters for the crash of a UN helicopter that killed eight people.

Six Pakistanis, a Russian and a Serb died when a Puma helicopter with the UN mission MONUSCO crashed Tuesday while on reconnaissance over the troubled eastern region of the country.

Military authorities in North Kivu province have accused the M23 rebel group of downing the chopper, though the faction denies the charge and instead blames the Congolese army. The UN mission has not said whom it blames for the crash.

At UN headquarters in New York, Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said a UN probe is under way, with a UN team due to work with Congolese authorities.

MONUSCO will continue to carry out reconnaissance flights in the area and monitor the activities of armed groups, Dujarric said.

Without blaming the M23 group for the crash, Dujarric said at his daily briefing that Guterres “is deeply concerned by the resurgence of M23 activities in the border area between the DRC close to Rwanda and Uganda.”

The helicopter came down in the Tchanzu area of Rutshuru Territory, where the army and the M23 rebels had been fighting the day before.

The M23 — its name derives from “March 23 Movement” — emerged years ago from an ethnic Tutsi Congolese rebellion in North Kivu that was once supported by Rwanda and Uganda.

AFP

Fourteen Civilians, Including 7 children, Killed In DR Congo

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

 

Fourteen civilians, including seven children, were killed in a displaced people’s camp in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the Red Cross said on Sunday as a community leader blamed the machete attack on a militia.

Seven adults and seven children, including a two-year-old girl, were all killed in the machete attack Saturday in the Ituri region, according to a list from the local Red Cross seen by AFP.

Five women aged between 25 and 32 were also among the victims, according to the list.

Jean D’Zba Banju, a community leader in the Djugu area of Ituri, said the perpetrators belonged to a notorious armed group called CODECO, which is blamed for a string of ethnic massacres in the area.

“CODECO militiamen entered Drakpa and started to cut people with machetes. They did not fire shots in order to operate calmly,” Banju told AFP.

“The victims are displaced people who had fled Ngotshi village to set up in Drakpa,” he said, adding that five others were wounded.

CODECO is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

In the neighbouring region of Beni, “four young people were killed in an ambush by ADF rebels on Sunday, three kilometres (1.8 miles) from Eringeti,” said Sabiti Njiamoja, an official for the governor of North Kivu.

The Allied Democratic Forces have been accused of killing thousands of civilians in DR Congo’s troubled east. The so-called Islamic State group bills the ADF as its local affiliate.

Ituri and North Kivu have both been under an official “state of siege” since last May, in a bid to crush armed groups that plague the two provinces.

Despite the crackdown — and cross-border support from Ugandan forces, which began in late November — the ADF’s attacks have continued.

AFP

U-17 WC Qualifier: Nigeria Thrash DR Congo 5-0

The Flamingos walloped their DR Congo counterparts 5-0 in Benin-City on March 19, 2022.
The Flamingos walloped their DR Congo counterparts 5-0 in Benin-City on March 19, 2022.

 

The female national U-17 football team, the Flamingos, have moved into the next round of the 2022 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying series for Africa after thrashing their DR Congo counterparts 5-0 in Benin-City.

The Flamingos qualified 8-0 on aggregate.

They will now face Egypt in the next round as they look to qualify for the World Cup in India scheduled to hold in October.

READ ALSO: Osimhen Double Seals Napoli Comeback To Pile Pressure On AC Milan

After winning the first leg in Kinshasha 3-0, the Flamingos did not relax in Benin-City as they dominated their opponents from start to finish at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium.

Speaking after the match, Flamingos coach Bankole Olowookere, commended his girls for their fine display, noting that the team is still a work in progress.

The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu also lauded the Flamingos’ performance.

He emphasised that Nigeria should be looking beyond the continent to dominate the sport at the global stage.

Pope Francis To Visit DR Congo, South Sudan In July

Pope Francis celebrates the New Year's day mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on January 1, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP
File photo: Pope Francis celebrates the New Year’s day mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on January 1, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Pope Francis in July will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, two African nations plagued by violence in which the pontiff has taken particular interest, the Vatican announced on Thursday.

The 85-year-old pope will be in the DRC from July 2 to 5, visiting the capital Kinshasa and Goma, the main town in the restive eastern province of North Kivu, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

He will then head to South Sudan from July 5 to 7, visiting the capital Juba, as part of a trip organised “at the invitation of their respective heads of state and bishops”.

Security is likely to be tight for both parts of what will be the pope’s fifth visit to the African continent and his second overseas trip announced for this year.

South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, has suffered from chronic instability since independence in 2011, including a brutal five-year civil war.

Meanwhile the DRC, which Pope John Paul II visited in August 1985, is struggling to contain dozens of armed groups in the east of the vast nation.

– Invaluable gift –

Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa, head of the national bishops conference in DRC, told a press conference in Kinshasa the pope’s visit would “revive the hope of the Congolese people, who need peace, security and well-being”.

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasa, said it was “an invaluable gift… to our country, to our people, a people who are currently going through difficult times”.

About 40 percent of the estimated 90 million inhabitants of DRC are Catholic, another 35 percent are Protestant or affiliated to Christian revivalist churches, nine percent are Muslim and 10 percent follow the Kimbanguist Congolese church.

The country has a secular government, but religion is omnipresent in most people’s lives and the Catholic Church in particular has at times played a leading role in local politics.

– Kissing leaders’ feet –
South Sudan meanwhile has lurched from crisis to crisis even after a 2018 peace deal, battling flooding and hunger as well as violence and political bickering as the promises of the agreement failed to materialise.

The United Nations on Tuesday said at least 440 civilians were killed in fighting between rival armed militias in southwestern South Sudan between June and September last year.

The Vatican has been directly involved in efforts to end the conflict, with Pope Francis himself kissing the feet of rival leaders Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in an extraordinary moment in 2019.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s minister of presidential affairs, told journalists in Juba his country would prepare “a great welcome that the people of South Sudan have been waiting for for many years”.

Stephen Ameyu Martin, the archbishop of Juba, added that the pope was concerned not just about religion but politics and “all of our lives, and so he has come in solidarity with South Sudan”.

Francis has made four visits to the continent of Africa since his election in 2013.

He visited Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic in 2015, Egypt in 2017, and two years later went first to Morocco and then made a week-long visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.

The trip to South Sudan and DRC is the second papal visit announced for this year, with the pope set to travel to Malta on April 2-3.

The pontiff, who last year spent 10 days in hospital after undergoing an operation on his colon, recently cancelled several engagements due to knee pain.

UN Court Orders Uganda To Pay DR Congo $325mn War Damages

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

The UN’s top court on Wednesday ordered Uganda to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo $325 million over a brutal war two decades ago, just a fraction of what Kinshasa demanded.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) comes as a blow to DR Congo after it sought a massive $11 billion in reparations over the devastating conflict that lasted from 1998 to 2003.

Judges said Kinshasa had failed to prove its African neighbour was directly responsible for any more than 15,000 of the hundreds of thousands of people believed to have died in the war.

“The court sets out the total amount of compensation awarded to the DRC, which is 325 million US dollars,” said Joan Donoghue, the chief judge of the Hague-based court.

Breaking down the figure, the court said Uganda must pay $225 million for damage to persons, including deaths, injuries and sexual violence, and $40 million for damage to property.

It must also pay $60 million for damage to natural resources, including the looting of coltan, a metallic ore used in phones and computers, and other raw materials as well aor deforestation and the destruction of wildlife.

The judgment caps a long legal battle.

In 2005 the ICJ ruled that Uganda had to pay reparations, but the two countries never settled on an amount and no money changed hands.

Kinshasa then claimed more than $11 billion for the occupation of its volatile northeastern Ituri region.

‘Wrongful Acts’

Awarding DR Congo less than one-thirtieth of what it had demanded, the court acknowledged that Uganda was to blame for a “significant part” of the casualties in the war due to its “wrongful international acts”.

But judges said there was “insufficient evidence to support the DRC’s claim of 180,000 civilian deaths for which Uganda owes reparation” by being directly responsible.

“The court considers that the evidence presented to it suggests that the number of deaths for which Uganda owes reparations falls in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 persons,” said Donoghue.

It relied on UN figures and expert reports for its figures, adding that “detailed proof of specific events that have occurred in a devastating war in remote areas almost two decades ago is not available”.

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

Mixed Feelings

In Ituri on Wednesday, motorbike taxi driver Lodha Losa welcomed the ruling.

The Ugandans “looted our belongings, raped our women,” he said in the main town of Bunia. “They must give back, it’s our right.”

Edouard Uvoya, a preacher, agreed.

Ugandan soldiers carried out “mass killings”, he said. “They stole gold, diamonds, ivory, wood — even copper electrical wiring.”

But Christian Uteki, a lawyer, said he had mixed feelings.

“Uganda was sentenced and that is a reason to be proud,” he said.

But “the amount of $325 million is very small,” in view of “all the damage done”.

Uganda’s representatives rejected what they called “staggering” demands for the claim, telling the court last year that the $11 billion claimed by DR Congo was “disproportionate and economically ruinous”.

“It essentially seeks to make Uganda responsible for everything that happened in the conflict,” Uganda’s Attorney General William Byaruhanga told the court.

Founded after World War II, the ICJ in The Hague rules in disputes between countries, mainly based on treaties. Its decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

Currently, Congolese and Ugandan troops are back in the region, but this time in an unprecedented offensive against the Allied Democratic Forces, the region’s deadliest militia, which the Islamic State group calls its affiliate.

In the latest suspected ADF rebel attack, three people were killed on Saturday in the Beni territory in the neighbouring North Kivu province.