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Africa
 
Lancement de la formation de l'armée unifiée
DRC-Rwanda: Hutu militants holding 3,000 hostages
Des scènes de réconciliation en Ituri
Les élections sont possibles en 2005, selon le chef de la MONUC
Le CIAT exprime ses inquiétudes sur la lenteur de la transition
Neuf syndicalistes journalistes condamnés à un an de prison ferme
2003 chronology of events
Rapports sur les relations éthniques / Reports on Ethnic Relations

The following section is consisted of part, full or summaries of articles from diverses sources (newspapers, newsletters, etc...).
La section suivante est constituée d'exraits, de la totalité ou de résumés d'articles provenant d'origines diverses (journaux,bulletins, etc..).



01 / 30 / 2004

IRIN

"Thousands of illegal diamond miners expelled"

At least 10,000 Congolese, mostly illegal miners, have been expelled from Angola since December 2003 under inhumane conditions, a Congolese human rights organization said on Thursday.

"They were forced back by the military and hundreds of others have been arrested and detained in subhuman conditions," Dolly Ibefo, vice-president of the rights body, Voice of the Voiceless (Voix des Sans Voix), said.

Returnees have recounted their experience on reaching the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A priest at the Evangelical Church at Kahemba, Jean Kasongo, said Angolan troops and knife-wielding civilians had subjected many to brutality and death threats. They spoke of having been stripped of their belongings before their expulsion.

"Sometimes they arrive with swollen feet from having walked long distances," Kahemba said.

One of the returnees who crossed the border on Wednesday, Puis Kabanga, said many of the miners did not have the necessary work permits. Moreover, Congolese working in the diamond business said that many of the miners in Angola worked with former Unita officers, who once fought the Angolan army.

"According to the report we have received, these people were illegal miners," Theophile Bemba, the DRC minister of the interior, said.

Voice of the Voiceless said most of these were settled in most of Angola's northern diamond mining provinces such as Lunda Norte, Malenge and Kafunfu. The exact number of the returnees is unknown, Kahemba said, because most went directly to their villages of origin without registering.

Congolese and Angolan authorities have confirmed the expulsion and are holding talks over the issue. However, the Angolan Embassy in Kinshasa has not made any public statement on the affair.

The expulsions occurred as the government in Kinshasa announced its largest earnings from diamond sales. Congo's Centre for the Evaluation of Precious Stones reported the export of 27.1 million carats valued at US $642.74 million, in 2003.

"This is a record," Pierre Kikuni, the director of the Ministry of Mines, told IRIN.


01 / 27 / 2004

IRIN

"Lancement de la formation de l'armée unifiée"

Le ministre belge de la défense, André Flahaut, a lancé dimanche à Kisangani, dans l'est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), la formation de la première brigade de l'armée congolaise unifiée.

"Si un Etat qui se forme n'a pas d'armée, il n'y aura pas de stabilité," a déclaré le ministre à la presse.

Près de 2.500 soldats congolais provenant d’anciennes factions belligérantes seront formés par 190 instructeurs militaires belges. Pour l’heure, seuls 80 militaires belges sont sur le terrain, les autres arriveront bientôt, a indiqué Wouter De Tavernier, attaché de presse de l'ambassade belge à Kinshasa, la capitale.

"Dans un premier temps, seul un bataillon [720 soldats congolais] sera formé. La formation continuera avec d'autres, selon la capacité d'accueil du centre de formation," a dit à IRIN Sylvain Mbuki, chef d'état-major de la force terrestre de l'armée congolaise unifiée.

Selon lui, les trois principaux anciens belligérants, à savoir l’ancien gouvernement, le Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD/Goma) et le Mouvement pour la libération du Congo (MLC), ont chacun mis à disposition 720 hommes.

La Belgique a obtenu l’aval du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies pour conduire cette formation. D'autres pays seront néanmoins associés à cette entreprise dont la Suède, la France et la Grande-Bretagne.


01 / 23 / 2004

IRIN

"MONUC chief summons militia leader over attacks"

The head of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, William Swing, summoned on Wednesday militia leader Thomas Lubanga to express his indignation over attacks by the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) fighters against UN troops in the northeastern district of Ituri, Orientale Province, an official said.

"MONUC would not tolerate the concept of uncontrolled armed groups," Hamadoun Touri, the spokesman of the UN mission, said in a statement announcing Swing's move against Lubanga.

Swing told Lubanga that militia leaders would have to account for their troops' actions. "MONUC s role in Ituri is to protect civilian populations and to restore peace," Toure said. "It will, therefore, continue using appropriate retaliatory means for enough is enough."

He announced that by March or April, MONUC would have deployed troops to several other areas in Ituri, including Mahagi and Aru in the northeast of Ituri.

UN News reported on Thursday that MONUC had blamed the militia attacks against its troops on a recently promoted UPC militia leader, Bosco Ntaganda, who it accused of summary executions of civilians, abductions and daily extortion.

"He is charged, among other things, with the summary executions of two people in Bunia in March 2003, kidnappings, rapes, barbaric acts on civilian populations, daily extortion of people's money and items in Ituri, illegal levying of taxes and other offences," UN News reported, quoting MONUC.

UN News reported that Swing had asked Lubanga to end Ntaganda's attacks on UN forces and local civilians. Lubanga appointed Ntaganda UPC's army chief of staff on 8 December 2003.

The latest of the attacks occurred on Wednesday when UPC militiamen opened fire on a Pakistani unit of MONUC in Nizi, 28 km north of Bunia, the main town in Ituri. Another group of UN peacekeepers, who were in a helicopter, were attacked by the UPC at Drodro and Iga-Barrihre on 19 and 20 January, UN News reported.


01 / 21 / 2004

IRIN

"Trois officiers remplacés dans l´état-major de l´armée unifiée"

Le commandement de l'armée congolaise unifiée en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) a été modifié par la nomination de trois nouveaux officiers issus de l'ancien mouvement rebelle, le Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD-Goma).

Le général Obed Ruhibasira et les colonels Jules Mutemuti et Ciro Nsimba, sont respectivement en charge du commandement des régions militaires de Goma, de Bukavu et de Bandundu (dans l´est de la RDC). Ils remplacent le général Laurent Nkunda et les colonels Elie Gichondo et Eric Ruhorimbere qui avaient refusé de prêter serment et allégeance au président Joseph Kabila en juillet dernier.

Laurent Nkunda était, par ailleurs, accusé d'avoir mené, en mai 2002, les massacres de populations civiles à Kisangani, dans la province Orientale, à la suite d´une mutinerie militaire au sein des troupes du RCD-Goma.

Le chef d'état-major de la force terrestre, le général-major Sylvain Mbuki, issu lui aussi du RCD, a procédé à Goma à l´installation des nouveaux officiers, en présence d'un des quatre vice-présidents de la République, Azarias Ruberwa, leader de l'ex-mouvement rebelle.

"3000 rwandais empêchés de retourner chez-eux par des extrémistes hutus rwandais"
Au moins 3.000 combattants et civils rwandais sont retenus en otage dans la forêt du Nord-Kivu, à l´est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), par des extrémistes rwandais hutus qui s´opposent à leur rapatriement volontaire, a déclaré mardi à IRIN, Hamadoun Touré, le porte-parole de la mission des Nations Unies en RDC (MONUC).

"Il y a certains durs qui ne veulent pas rentrer au Rwanda et qui mettent des freins ainsi que des obstacles militaires pour empêcher des combattants volontaires [au rapatriement] de sortir des forêts en vue d'être rapatriés," a déclaré M. Touré.

Les propos du porte-parole confirment ceux du ministre rwandais des affaires étrangères, Charles Mulingade, lundi à Kigali, la capitale du Rwanda. Le ministre a pris connaissance de la situation par le chef de la MONUC, William Swing, qui a informé à Kigali, le président rwandais Paul Kagame, des derniers développements du processus de paix en RDC et de la situation du rapatriement des Rwandais.

Selon lui, ces extrémistes sont pour la plupart membres des Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR), un mouvement interdit d´activité sur le sol congolais par Kinshasa et considéré par lui comme "personae non grata".

"Ils [les extrémistes rwandais hutus] ont installé un poste de contrôle à la sortie de la forêt, ils menacent et mènent des propagandes pour décourager les volontaires en leur disant qu'ils ne seront pas en sécurité une fois rentrés au Rwanda," a expliqué M. Touré.

La MONUC s´occupe depuis près de deux ans du rapatriement volontaire de combattants rwandais et de leurs dépendants en exil en RDC. Le nombre de rapatriés a par ailleurs augmenté depuis le retour au Rwanda en novembre 2003 du principal commandant rebelle, Paul Rwarakabije.

Depuis le début, il y a deux ans, du programme de DDRRR (démobilisation, désarmement, rapatriement, réinsertion et réinstallation) des groupes armés étrangers, 5.O56 personnes ont été rapatriées. Les combattants et leurs familles sont estimés à 14.000 en RDC.

Les ONG ont souvent critiqué la lenteur du processus, à l´instar de l´ancien commandant des forces de la MONUC, le général Mountaga Diallo

Un contingent sud-africain de la MONUC a été déployé depuis près de six mois dans cette partie du territoire afin de sécuriser le personnel des Nations Unies chargé de convaincre les combattants rwandais vivant encore dans des forêts congolaises de retourner chez-eux. Les extrémistes hutus ont néanmoins bloqué les tentatives de la MONUC d´entrer en contact avec les personnes dans les forêts, a affirmé M. Touré. Cependant, M. Muligande a déclaré à la presse que des démarches avaient été entreprises, à travers des messages radiophoniques et des tracts lâchés par les airs, pour informer les otages qu´ils pouvaient rentrer en toute sécurité au Rwanda.

De nombreux Hutus avaient fui le Rwanda en 1994, après que des Hutus extrémistes aient tué près de 800.000 Tutsis et Hutus modérés.

01 / 20 / 2004

IRIN

"DRC-Rwanda: Hutu militants holding 3,000 hostages"

Hutu militants, opposed to the voluntary repatriation of their countrymen, are holding at least 3,000 Rwandan civilians and former combatants hostage in a forest in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the spokesman for the UN Mission in the DRC, Hamadoun Toure, said on Tuesday.

"Some hardliners do not want to return to Rwanda and have obstructed former fighters, intent on returning home, form leaving the forest," he said.

"They have set up a check point at the exit of the forest. Then they threaten the refugees and tell them that they would find no security in Rwanda, thereby discouraging them from leaving," he added.

Toure's comments confirm those of Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Muligande on Monday in Kagali, the Rwandan capital. Mulingande said he learnt of the situation through William Swing, the head of the UN Mission in the DRC. Swing was in Kigali to brief President Paul Kagame on the latest peace building initiatives in the DRC and progress, so far, in repatriating the Rwandans.

Most of the militants are members of the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces democratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda) that the Congolese government has outlawed and ordered out of the country.

The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, has for the last two years supported a voluntary repatriation of former Rwandan combatants and their dependants, once opposed to the government in Kigali. The numbers of those returning home rose sharply after the main rebel commander, Paul Rwarakabije, returned home in November 2003.

Of the 14,000 fighters and their dependents estimated to be in the Congo, 5,056 have returned home under a demobilisation, disarmament, repatriation and reintegration programme for armed foreign groups in the DRC.

South African UN troops are deployed in the Kivus to protect UN personnel trying to urge the Rwandans to leave the forests. However, Toure said the militants had blocked attempts by the UN to contact those in the forests. Nevertheless, Muligande told reporters that efforts were now being made to tell the hostages through the radio and leaflets dropped by air that they could return safely to Rwanda.

Many Hutu fled Rwanda in 1994 after Hutu militants killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu.


"Positions in military command filled"

Congo filled on Monday the remaining three positions in its unified military high command with the appointment of officers formerly loyal to the rebel movement, the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-Goma (RCD-Goma).

Gen Obed Ruhibasira, colonels Jules Mutemuti and Ciro Nsimba were, respectively, handed command of the Goma, Bukavu and Bandundu military regions. They replace Gen Laurent Nkunda, colonels Elie Gichondo and Eric Ruhorimbere who all refused to take an oath of allegiance to President Joseph Kabila in July 2003, along with other appointees.

Nkunda has been accused of responsibility for the mass killing of Kinsangani residents, Orientale Province, in May 2002, after a mutiny by some RCD-Goma troops.

The chief of staff of ground forces, Maj-Gen Sylvain Mbuki, also of the RCD-Goma, was present at the command handover along with one of the four vice-presidents of the republic, Azarias Ruberwa, leader of of RCD-Goma.


01 / 15 / 2004

IRIN

"DRC-South Africa: Pretoria, Kinshasa sign bilateral accord"

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a bilateral agreement worth US $10 billion dollars on Wednesday, covering the areas of defence and security, the economy and finance, agriculture and infrastructural development.

Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Joseph Kabila signed the deal in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, at the end of Mbeki's first state visit to the Congo. A joint commission of the two governments has been tasked with implementing the agreement.

"The commission's first meeting has already been set for February in South Africa over which my colleague Kabila will preside," Mbeki told reporters in Kinshasa.

Congo also signed a 60-million rand (US $8.4 million) deal with the South African Chamber of Commerce to rehabilitate the state's giant Gecamines mining concern, the 39th concession of the Kilomoto Gold Mines, and for the management of Kinshasa's Grand Hotel as well as Hotel Karavia in Lubumbashi, the minister responsible for state-owned firms, Joseph Mudumbi, said.

Congo, potentially one of the richest countries in Africa, has vast deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, uranium and other minerals. However, these resources have remained under exploited due to the country's instability and mismanagement during the rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko. The mining sector collapsed completely as the country slid into war in 1998 in which some 3.3 million people died.

In a bid to halt such tragedies and lead the continent to its renaissance, South Africa was pivotal in facilitating of an all-inclusive agreement reached in 2003 among Congo's warring factions.

In their final communiqui, Mbeki and Kabila reaffirmed their support for the upcoming peace and development conference for the Great Lakes.


01 / 14 / 2004

IRIN

"Des scènes de réconciliation en Ituri"

Les fêtes de fin d'année se sont traduites par des scènes de réconciliation entre les ethnies Hema et Lendu, au nord-est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), a rapporté mardi la MONUC, mission des Nations Unies en RDC. Le district de l'Ituri a été, en effet, le théâtre de violents affrontements interethniques avant et après l'installation d'un gouvernement d'unité nationale, le 30 juin dernier.

"Au nom des Hema du territoire d'Irumu, je demande pardon, à tous les Lendu du territoire de Ndjugu. Pardonnez-nous devant le monde et devant Dieu. Vous nous l'accordez ?," a demandé le premier janvier 2004, aux Lendu, Augustin Kisembo, le président du PUSIC et chef de collectivité des Bahema sud. La scène se passait à Zumbe, à 25 km à l'est de Bunia, le chef lieu de l'Ituri.

A Noël aussi, a rappelé la MONUC, les Lendu avaient été accueillis par les Hema à Kasenyi, à 48 km à l'est de Bunia pour une cérémonie de réconciliation.

"Nous demandons pardon aux Hema...Je crois qu'au nom de nous tous , ce pardon est accordé," a affirmé le chef de collectivité Lendu Tatsi, Shatsi Ngabile, a rapporté le communiqué de la MONUC.

Selon la MONUC, "les autres discours prononcés exprimaient un franc-parler et une forte aspiration à la paix" tout en appelant les chefs de guerre à respecter les droits de l'homme.

"Que jamais plus la population ne fasse les frais de massacres, de pillages, que les femmes et les enfants ne soient plus jamais violés, utilisés comme esclaves sexuels, torturés. Qu'enfin une paix véritable et durable s'installe en Ituri," a rapporté le communiqué de la MONUC.

A la suite des violents combats dans cette région, une force multinationale intérimaire d'urgence avait été déployée à Bunia en vertu de la résolution 1484 du Conseil de sécurité du 30 mai au 1er septembre 2003.

Cette opération, appelée Artémis, avait été placée sous le commandement français. Son mandat consistait à sécuriser la ville de Bunia et son aéroport en raison de violents combats interethniques.

La MONUC, dont le mandat a été renforcé par la résolution 1493 du Conseil de sécurité le 28 juillet dernier, a désormais succédé à Artémis. Son mandat a été étendu jusqu'au 30 juillet 2004. Elle est autorisée à "prendre les mesures nécessaires, dans les zones de déploiement de ses unités armées" pour notamment protéger les populations civiles et les agents humanitaires.

Un embargo de 12 mois sur les armes, dans cette région, a également été décidé.

La région de l'Ituri a été gravement secouée par la guerre depuis 1998. Elle opposait l'ethnie Lendu à celle des Hema ainsi que leurs alliés respectifs pour la prise du pouvoir dans ce district, riche en ressources naturelles. Les combats n'ont pas épargné les populations civiles. Les victimes sont estimées à environ 50.000 personnes alors que 500.000 autres ont fui les massacres.

"Les élections sont possibles en 2005, selon le chef de la MONUC"

Il est techniquement possible d'organiser les élections en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) en 2005, conformément à l'accord global et inclusif et à la constitution transitoire, a estimé William Lacy Swing, chef de la MONUC, la mission des Nations Unies en RDC, selon un communiqué de la mission publié mardi.

Il s'exprimait mardi dans la capitale Kinshasa, à l'occasion d'une
intervention devant la Commission des relations extérieures, défense et
sécurité du Parlement de transition et en présence d'une délégation du
parlement belge en visite dans le pays.

Le déroulement des élections, devant mettre fin à la période transitoire en
RDC, a toutefois souligné M. Swing, "dépend du programme du gouvernement et de la bonne volonté politique," a rapporté le communiqué.

"La plupart des lois régissant l'organisation des scrutins restaient encore à voter. La question des réfugiés et des déplacés, la présence des groupes armés étrangers sur le sol congolais et la démobilisation des groupes armés locaux sont autant d'obstacles à surmonter en vue d'assurer le bon déroulement des élections, a déclaré M. Swing," a rapporté le communiqué.

Le représentant spécial a encore rappelé le soutien de la MONUC aux
Congolais avant de présenter les objectifs de la mission, à savoir: "l'instauration de la bonne gouvernance, la stabilisation de la région, l'organisation d'élections démocratiques, l'amélioration de la qualité de vie des populations congolaises et l'établissement d'un Etat de droit," selon le communiqué.

M. Swing a encore fait le point sur le programme de désarmement,
démobilisation, rapatriement, réinstallation et réinsertion des groupes armés étrangers. "Au total, plus de 5000 ex-combattants rwandais, ougandais et burundais ainsi que leurs dépendants ont été rapatriés dans leur pays," lisait-on. Le nombre de rapatriements volontaires pourrait doubler dans les prochains mois, a-t-il encore précisé.

Il a souligné enfin, selon le communiqué, le "soutien exceptionnel de la Communauté internationale à la reconstruction de la RDC". Il a annoncé à titre d'exemple la promesse de la Banque mondiale de débloquer 3,9 milliards de dollars en vue de la reconstruction du pays, a indiqué le communiqué.


01 / 13 / 2004

IRIN

"Hundreds of militiamen abandon forests"

Hundreds of Congolese Mayi-Mayi militiamen have started leaving the country's dense eastern forests and are assembling near Kindu, the largest city in Maniema Province, officials said on Monday.

Officials of the UN Mission in the DRC, the government and the Mayi-Mayi said that the movement of the militiamen to assembly sites 15 km from Kindu picked up pace after Mayi-Mayi leader Kabambi Wa Kabambi left the forests over two months ago. They are hoping to be integrated into the new Congolese army.

"They disarmed spontaneously but most are hoping to be integrated into the new army," Sylvain Belmambo, vice-minister for veterans and demobilisation, said.

He said the government was surprised at the large numbers that had been coming out of hiding and had not taken measures to accommodate them. Some 700 Mayi-Mayi militiamen left the forests in November 2003, eager to resume their civilian lives. The government has not yet determined quotas for the various militia groups that will be selected for the new army.

"These fighters will have to wait till the president signs a decree, at t he next cabinet meeting, fixing the quotas and criteria for integration of armed groups into the new army," Belmambo said.

"More than 1,500 of our fighters who were under the command of our leader [Gen David] Padiri have left South Kivu and have joined another group at Kindu," Marcel Mbunga, a former militia leader and now a member of the national unity government, told IRIN on Monday.


01 / 12 / 2004

IRIN


"1.500 combattants Mayï-Mayï attendent à Kindu leur intégration dans l'armée"

Des centaines de combattants Mayï-Mayï sortent des forêts dans l'est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), en vue d'être intégrés dans l'armée unifiée. Les regroupements ont lieu à 15 km de Kindu, chef-lieu de la province du Maniema.

Selon la MONUC, la mission des Nations Unies au Congo, le gouvernement et les autorités Mayï-Mayï, ce mouvement s’intensifie depuis la sortie de la forêt, il y a plus de deux mois, du commandant Kabambi Wa Kabambi, chef de la faction Mayï-Mayï de Kindu.

"Plus de 1.500 de nos combattants qui étaient sous le commandement de notre leader Padiri ont quitté le Sud-Kivu [dans l'est] et ont rejoint le groupe de Kindu," a déclaré à IRIN Marcel Mbunga, actuel leader de l'ancienne milice, aujourd'hui membre du gouvernement d'unité nationale.

L’encadrement de ces combattants pose néanmoins des difficultés, a continué M. Mbunga. Certains d'entre eux regagnent en effet les forêts en raison des difficiles conditions de vies.

"La situation à Kindu a été une surprise pour tout le monde car ces combattants sont sortis subitement des forêts, et en grand nombre, alors que nous n’avions pas pris des dispositions conséquentes," a affirmé pour sa part le vice-ministre aux anciens combattants et à la démobilisation, Sylvain Belmambo.

"Ils se sont désarmés de manière spontanée mais la plupart attend d’être intégrée dans la nouvelle armée," a-t-il ajouté.

Hamadoun Touré, le porte-parole de la MONUC, a rappelé l'implication de la mission dans la démobilisation de 700 combattants Mayï-Mayï, sortis des forets en novembre dernier et désireux de renouer avec des activités civiles.

Le gouvernement n’a, pour l’heure, pas encore déterminé officiellement les quotas régissant la participation des anciens belligérants dans la nouvelle armée.

"Ces combattants doivent encore attendre car le président [de la République, Joseph Kabila] signera à la prochaine réunion du gouvernement un décret sur ces quotas, fixant également les critères d’intégration dans la nouvelle armée," a déclaré M. Belmambo.

"Belgium to send 190 military instructors"

The Belgium government of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has authorised the dispatch of 190 military advisers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help build a new army, Belgian state radio and television, RTBF, reported on Friday.

"We've just given the go-ahead, we have not yet launched the operation because at the moment we still lack what is known as the memorandum on understanding," he said.

That agreement, he said, was to be drawn up with the UN, defining the various tasks that the Belgian instructors would undertake as well as the rules under which the mission would be undertaken.

RTBF reported that the objective of the Belgian action was to help set up a mixed brigade comprising representatives of the country's various groups, including former rebels.

Verhofstadt said the operation "was essential" for the success of the peace process in the war-torn country. After years of effort in successfully achieving a political settlement in the country, he said, it was now time to create a single unified army.

A 20-member Belgian military delegation toured Congo in November 2003 to evaluate military needs of its former colony.

The proposed mixed brigade is to be deployed to the northeastern town of Bunia, the principal town in the volatile Ituri District, Orientale Province. A strengthened UN peacekeeping mission is deployed in Ituri.

During a visit to Congo in August, Belgian Defence Minister Andre Flahaut pledged his government's continued support for the peace and stability efforts in the Congo.

Several Congolese military officers went to Belgium, following Flahaut's visit, for further training.

The leadership of a unified national army was inaugurated on 5 September 2002. However, progress in bringing the military's rank and file together has been slow. In late October, an international committee overseeing the two-year transitional process in the DRC chided the government for a wide range of delays, including the formation of a unified national army.


01 / 09 / 2004

IRIN

"Le CIAT exprime ses inquiétudes sur la lenteur de la transition"

Le Comité international d’accompagnement à la transition (CIAT) en République démocratique du Congo s'inquiète "du retard pris dans l'élaboration, l'examen et l’adoption d’importants textes législatifs indispensables à la bonne marche de la Transition et à la tenue d’élections libres, transparentes et démocratiques dans les délais fixés par l’Accord Global et Inclusif," a indiqué jeudi un communiqué du CIAT.

Afin de combler ce retard les deux chambres du parlement ont été immédiatement convoquées à une session extraordinaire alors qu'elles venaient de terminer lundi leurs sessions ordinaires.

"Nous avons des craintes que si l'on ne fait pas vite, l’on soit amené à dépasser l’échéance de deux années fixées par la constitution pour l’organisation des élections et même d’aller au-delà des six mois supplémentaires que prévoit la loi," a affirmé à IRIN, le pasteur Kuye Ndondo, président de la Commission vérité et réconciliation (CVR).

Le parlement n'a en effet pas traité tous les points à l'ordre du jour lors de la session ordinaire. Sept points seront donc notamment examinés à l'occasion cette session extraordinaire: le budget 2004; la loi sur l'organisation et le fonctionnement des partis politiques, la loi d'amnistie, la loi de décentralisation, la loi organique sur la défense et l'armée ainsi que les lois organiques sur le fonctionnement des cinq institutions citoyennes.

Seule la loi organique sur la commission électorale indépendante (CEI) a été étudiée au niveau de l'assemblée nationale, a affirmé l’abbé Apolinaire Malumalu, président de la CEI.

"Ce retard ne se justifie pas. Nous pensons que ce sont les composantes [du gouvernement transitoire: l’ancien gouvernement, les anciens rebelles, l'opposition politique, les représentants de la société civile et les milices Mayï-Mayï] qui contrôlent le parlement et refusent de faire avancer les choses en vue de s’asseoir au pouvoir dans une longue transition," a déclaré Nsii Luanda, juriste et coordinateur de l’ONG du Comité des observateurs des droits de l’homme (CODHO).

Des inquiétudes concernent en effet ces cinq institutions d'appui à la démocratie. Plus de six mois après le début de la transition, elles ne fonctionnent pas encore. Or, ce sont elles qui doivent préparer et conduire la RDC aux élections générales après plus de quatre années de guerre.

Ces cinq institutions à savoir, l’Observatoire national des droits de l’homme, la Commission indépendante électorale, la CVR, la Commission d’éthique et de lutte contre la corruption et la Haute autorité des médias, ont pour l'heure uniquement été présentées aux parlements et attendent les lois organiques devant organiser leur fonctionnement.

"Nous ne comprenons pas pourquoi le parlement nous bloque et bloque aussi l’adoption de toutes les lois," a déclaré M. Kuye.

01 / 08 / 2004

IRIN

"Neuf syndicalistes journalistes condamnés à un an de prison ferme"


Neuf syndicalistes de la chaîne publique de Radio télévision nationale congolaise (RTNC) ont été condamnés lundi à un an de prison ferme pour diffamation par le tribunal de paix de Kinshasa/Gombé en République démocratique du Congo, a rapporté mercredi l'ONG de défense de la presse, Journaliste en danger (JED).

A l'occasion d'une assemblée générale de la RTNC fin février 2003, les prévenus avaient demandé la démission du ministre de la communication, Kikaya bin Karubi, et la réhabilitation de l'ancien directeur général de la RNTC, Luboya Mvidie, qui avait été suspendu.

Ils avaient ensuite diffusé une lettre aux autorités de l'Etat accusant le ministre de la communication du "détournement d’émetteurs radio télévision du lot des équipements achetés par la RDC (et) le détournement des recettes du loyer du patrimoine de la RTNC", a rapporté JED.

Le minsitre a déposé une plainte pour diffamation le 20 mars dernier.

Le verdict du tribunal a été rendu sans la présence des prévenus. Les intéressés l'ont appris par la presse deux jours après. "Nous avons appris, comme vous, par la presse ce matin [mercredi] notre condamnation à une peine de 12 mois de prison et 2.500 dollars US chacun d'amende," avait déclaré à JED, Richard Kalala Tshitenge, un des condamnés. Sept des neufs syndicalistes ont reçu par la suite la notification de leur condamnation.

Les neuf intéressés étaient toujours en liberté mercredi, avait précisé JED.


01 / 07 / 2004

IRIN

"IRIN interview avec Antoine Ghonda, le ministre congolais des affaires étrangères"

Antoine Ghonda, ministre des affaires étrangères de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) a accordé lundi une interview à IRIN à son retour d’une tournée en Afrique, en Europe et en Amérique du nord. Il a évoqué les préparatifs et la position du gouvernement congolais concernant la future conférence internationale pour la région des Grands Lacs. Il a également parlé de la politique d’ouverture du gouvernement d’unité nationale.

QUESTION: La conférence internationale pour la région des Grands Lacs est programmée en 2004. Le gouvernement congolais ne semble pas enclin à y participer. Pourquoi?

REPONSE: La RDC va participer à cette conférence. Mais nous aimerions que la conférence intègre tous les pays voisins de la RDC. Nous aimerions que cette conférence soit un moyen, une opportunité de résoudre les problèmes avec tous les voisins de la RDC.

Nous n’aimerions pas qu’à travers cette conférence l'on résolve seulement les problèmes avec le Rwanda, l’Ouganda et le Burundi en faisant fi par exemple du Congo-Brazzaville avec lequel nos relations sont, du reste, en dents de scie, ou encore avec l’Angola ou la RCA [la République centrafricaine].

Nous avons de bonnes relations en ce moment avec l’Angola, mais il ne faut pas oublier que nous avons maintenant un gouvernement d’union nationale, au sein duquel des composantes avaient des relations assez difficiles avec ce pays.

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes en train de travailler tous ensemble à l'amélioration des relations avec les pays voisins. Des émissaires angolais sont venus et ils ont dit: "Ecoutez, il y a un gouvernement d’union nationale, nous aimerions travailler avec tout le monde." Cette détermination existe en ce moment avec l'Angola. Mais, c’est encore du court terme. En politique rien n’est figé. On ne sait jamais comment les choses peuvent évoluer.

Q: Le gouvernement de la RDC craint-il de participer à cette conférence, selon le format fixé, et de se retrouver isolé en face du bloc Rwanda-Ouganda-Burundi, des pays alliés à une époque, durant la guerre en RDC?

R: Non, nous n’avons pas peur d’être isolé face au Rwanda, l'Ouganda et au Burundi. Je n’aimerais plus qu’on puisse voir nos relations avec ces pays-là en termes d’antagonisme ou en termes conflictuels. Il faut préparer le long terme. Et pour y arriver, il faut que tous les pays voisins y participent [à la conférence].

La RDC a neuf pays voisins. Aujourd’hui, si une conférence il y a, il faut que celle-ci inclut tout le monde.

Comment est-ce que la conférence a été préparée? La sélection, par exemple, des pays qui participent à cette conférence au premier degré ne nous agrée pas. Pas du tout d’ailleurs. Nous ne pouvons traiter sans tenir compte de l’Angola, de la RCA, du Congo-Brazzaville, impliqués à un second degré dans cette conférence, parce que ce qui se passe ici au Congo a nécessairement des répercussions au niveau de l’Angola. Dans les guerres autrefois, l’Angola, le Congo-Brazzaville sont intervenus, la RCA aussi à travers le MLC [Mouvement de libération du Congo, un ancien mouvement rebelle congolais, aujourd’hui membre du gouvernement d’union nationale].

Nous estimons ensuite qu’il y a beaucoup trop de bureaucratie. Nous aimerions pouvoir alléger le processus et qu’on puisse tenir compte des efforts que nous faisons avec les différents pays voisins: le Rwanda, l’Ouganda, le Burundi, la RCA, l’Angola et les autres pays.

A cette conférence […] qu’allons-nous faire? Est-ce seulement à partir du mois de juin que nous allons décider comment nous allons travailler pour améliorer nos relations avec les pays voisins? Ou allons-nous expliquer à l'occasion de cette conférence les efforts que nous avons déjà entrepris en présentant les résolutions que nous devrons prendre?

C'est le message que nous voudrions faire passer. Nous n’aimerions pas être au niveau de la théorie, mais plutôt au niveau de la pratique, c'est dans l'intérêt du peuple congolais.

Si nous allons à cette conférence, c’est avec la détermination d'améliorer nos relations avec les pays voisins. Mais nous aimerions d'abord améliorer la situation interne. S’il y a des Interahamwe [milice hutu rwandaise], des Ex-Far [ancienne forces armées rwandaises], des troupes étrangères au niveau de la RDC, on aimerait d’abord traiter le problème au niveau interne puis présenter à la conférence les résolutions que nous avons prises. C'est ce que nous voulons faire prévaloir aujourd'hui.

Q: Dans ce cas, l’appellation de ladite conférence devra être modifiée?

R: Pour le moment, il est vrai que l'on parle seulement de la conférence pour la région des Grands Lacs. Nous estimons qu'il s'agit d'une aberration.

C’est une conférence pour la région des Grands Lacs et de l’Afrique Centrale parce que le Congo est au centre, le Congo est dans les Grands Lacs, le Congo est en Afrique Centrale. Il est donc important que ce soit une conférence pour toute cette région.

Q: Vous revenez d’une tournée en Afrique, en Europe et en Amérique. Quel était l’objectif de cette tournée?

R: L’objectif était de parler du processus [de transition] en cours en RDC avec l'installation du gouvernement d’union nationale en juin dernier. Il fallait expliquer à la communauté internationale que les problèmes qu’a connus le Congo sont en train de se résoudre. Nous voulons montrer la nouvelle détermination du pays à émerger et la vision que nous avons du futur: la normalisation des relations avec les pays voisins, l'encouragement des investissements pour que les opérateurs économiques relancent cette dynamique qui s'était arrêtée depuis plus de dix ans.

Q: Concrètement avez-vous remarqué l’intérêt des investisseurs pour le Congo?

R: Ce qui empêchait les investissements était l’instabilité politique dans le pays. Or maintenant un gouvernement d’union nationale existe et il faut l'expliquer.

Les gens sont prêts pour relancer les activités au Congo. J’ai effectué récemment une mission en Grèce. Une délégation viendra au mois de janvier. Plusieurs autres délégations sont par ailleurs déjà venues. Elles voulaient savoir dans quel secteur investir, comment ça se passe avec les opérateurs économiques sur place, à Kinshasa [la capitale de la RDC]. Il était important de leur dire par exemple qu’il y a un nouveau code d’investissement, que certaines taxes on été allégées, comment également fonctionne le gouvernement, que la sécurité juridique existe. Tout ceci il faut l'expliquer.

Il fallait aussi faire connaître le plan économique du gouvernement pour consolider le processus politique. Aujourd’hui, des projets existent dans le cadre du NEPAD. On parle aussi par exemple de l’électricité avec le barrage d’Inga. Dans le moyen terme, la ville de Pointe-Noire au Congo-Brazzaville aura besoin d’électricité, tout comme Cabinda en Angola. Cette électricité peut être fournie par le barrage d’Inga.

Des Suédois voulaient déjà investir dans ce domaine. La société suédoise ABB a, par ailleurs, un projet pour améliorer le barrage d'Inga, mais il fallait trouver des investisseurs. Ils ont fait appel à leur gouvernement. Il fallait néanmoins que cela se passe d’Etat à Etat. C’est pour cela que je me suis rendu en Suède pour parler au gouvernement suédois et lui faire comprendre qu’il doit soutenir leurs entreprises qui veulent développer des secteurs d’activités chez nous en RDC. J’ai eu une réponse assez favorable.

Le deuxième projet qui l’a fort intéressé et qui nous intéresse aussi, est la fibre optique en provenance de l’Inde. Une société en télécommunication, Ericsson, aimerait tirer cette fibre optique de Mwanda jusqu’au Katanga. La RDC ne serait pas la seule à tirer profit de cette nouvelle technologie. L’Angola, le Congo-Brazzaville, la RCA, le Rwanda, l’Ouganda en profiteraient par ricochet. L’étude de faisabilité est très avancée. Nous aurons les résultats dans environs six mois. C’est un projet d’intégration régionale qui soutient le processus politique.

Q: Le gouvernement congolais va-t-il financer une partie de ce projet?

R: Ce sont les investisseurs étrangers qui vont soutenir le projet. La RDC va participer, à hauteur de 10 à 20 pour cent à travers une initiative privée.

Q: Ceci veut-il dire que la RDC entre dans l’ère de la privatisation et que ce sont des entreprises étrangères, les financières des projets, qui récolteront les bénéfices de ces opérations?

R: Il y a les entreprises étrangères, il y a les entreprises locales aussi. Evidemment, j’ai mis un accent sur une entreprise étrangère Ericsson qui pilote ce projet. Mais effectivement, on est en train d’ouvrir le pays à une privatisation qui ne sera, au demeurant, pas sauvage. Elle sera organisée en tenant compte des intérêts nationaux et de ceux des opérateurs étrangers.

01 / 6 / 2004

IRIN

"Les magistrats suspendent leur mouvement de grève après deux mois"

Les magistrats de la République démocratique du Congo ont suspendu lundi dernier leur grève qu’ils avaient débuté à la fin du mois d'octobre.

Selon le juge Sambay Mutenda Lukusa, président de la Cour d’Appel de Gombe et membre du Syndicat autonome des magistrats congolais (SYNAMAC), la suspension de la grève permettra au parlement et au gouvernement "de négocier avec sérénité et sérieux avec le troisième pouvoir que constitue la magistrature".

Le Parlement avait créé la semaine dernière une commission chargée d'assurer la médiation entre le gouvernement et le pouvoir judiciaire. Ce dernier réclame une revalorisation des salaires et plus d'indépendance.

"Nous avons repris le travail parce que nous avons constaté que les autres pouvoirs commencent à faire de l’indépendance de la justice leur préoccupation," a déclaré M. Sambay.

Les magistrats étaient en effet souvent en proie aux manipulations des hommes politiques et corrompus. L’un des gouvernements précédents avait d’ailleurs révoqué 315 magistrats, accusés par lui de corruption.

Ces magistrats ont été réhabilités le mois dernier consécutivement à une décision prise lors du dialogue intercongolais en Afrique du Sud.

Les 1.700 magistrats congolais ont cependant repris le travail sans qu’aucune proposition relative à leur rémunération et indépendance n'ait été avancée.

Les juges revendiquent des salaires de 950 dollars alors qu’ils se situaient dans une fourchette allant de 15 à 40 dollars jusqu'à présent.

"La revendication économique venait juste en appui de notre préoccupation d’avoir une justice indépendante," a affirmé M. Sambay. Les magistrats, selon lui encore, ont aussi suspendu leur mouvement pour des raisons humanitaires.

"Nous avons pensé qu'il fallait travailler pour régler les problèmes des personnes arrêtées durant cette période de fin d'année, mais permettre aussi aux plaignants de bénéficier de la justice," a-t-il affirmé.

"Nous avons aussi constaté la recrudescence de la criminalité alors que nous étions en grève car la police seule ne suffit pas à la contrecarrer," a-t-il encore affirmé.


"ECHO porte son aide humanitaire à 40 millions d'euros"

L'office d'aide humanitaire de la commission européenne (ECHO) va augmenter de 5 millions d'euros (6,3 millions de dollars) son aide à la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) par rapport à 2003. L'augmentation, portant la contribution européenne à 40 millions d'euros (50.6 millions de dollars), a été justifiée "par les récentes améliorations de la situation sécuritaire, permettant aux agences d'aide d'accéder à un plus grand nombre de population dans le besoin", a annoncé lundi ECHO.

Les récents progrès au niveau politique et militaire, a expliqué ECHO, sont des vecteurs de pacification pour la région des Grands Lacs. L'adoption d'un plan de 40 millions d'euros pour 2004 démontre, a encore ajouté ECHO, "son engagement durable en faveur des personnes vulnérables en RDC au cours de ce délicat processus transitoire".

Selon ECHO, la RDC enregistre les taux de mortalité maternelle et infantile les plus importants en Afrique, alors qu'un enfant sur cinq décède avant d'avoir atteint l'âge de cinq ans. L'épidémie du VIH-SIDA est par ailleurs un problème croissant et le manque d'accès à la nourriture a engendré l'insécurité alimentaire et créé des poches de malnutrition aiguë.

"Approximativement 16 pour cent (environ deux millions) d'enfants souffrent d'une forme de malnutrition," a rapporté ECHO. "Malgré les récents progrès politiques dans le pays, il reste un besoin de protection et d'assistance durable au profit de la population congolaise."

Une approche liant l'aide à la réhabilitation et au développement, a continué ECHO, était de "première importance". Les fonds ne doivent ainsi pas seulement être utilisés pour alléger les souffrances des populations vulnérables, mais doivent être également affectés à la relance économique et à la vie sociale.

Les domaines clés de l'intervention d'ECHO concerneront le secteur de la santé, l'aide alimentaire, le soutien à la réhabilitation et à la relance d'activités pour assister les populations rapatriées et préparer une solution durable.

ECHO a rappelé que la crise en RDC a représenté son programme le plus important en Afrique depuis quatre ans. Au cours des cinq dernières années, en allouant 150 millions d'euros à ce pays, ECHO était le bailleur de fonds humanitaire le plus important. ECHO a encore précisé que son plan d'action pour 2004 bénéficiera directement à plus de cinq millions de personnes vulnérables.

01 / 05 / 2004

IRIN

"2003 chronology of events"

A selected chronology of events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2003.

6 January: Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) rebel movement forms alliance with the Bunia-based Union des patriotes congolais pour la reconciliation et la paix (UPC-RP) of Thomas Lubanga in Ituri District, northeastern DRC. The agreement commits the two parties to "cooperate and support each other mutually in the domains of politics, military, and economy".

7 January: Monsignor Melchisedec Sikulu Paluku, the bishop of Beni-Butembo in northeastern DRC, accuses the Mouvement pour la liberation du Congo (MLC), headed by Jean-Pierre Bemba, and the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-National (RCD-N), led by Roger Lumbala, of cannibalism.

7 January: Government launches its national diamond certification programme as part of its participation in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which took effect on 1 January 2003.

8 January: The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, announces that it has opened investigations into reports of cannibalism and human rights violations by rebels near the northeastern town of Beni, North Kivu Province.

15 January: MONUC confirms that rebel groups in the northeast of the country have engaged in acts of cannibalism.

15 January: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello demands that sanctions be imposed on members of rebel groups that have engaged in cannibalism in northeastern DRC.

16 January: Government asks UN Security Council to establish a UN criminal court to try rebel groups accused of committing atrocities, including genocide, in the northeast of the country.

17 January: One killed, five wounded as Red Cross vehicle is ambushed by unidentified assailants near Uvira, eastern DRC.

21 January: DRC Health Minister Mashako Mamba reports that "more than" 2,000 people have died as the result of an influenza epidemic that has been sweeping across parts of the country for one-and-a-half months. Affected areas are Thuapa, in the south of Equateur Province, and Inongo, near Lake Mai-Ndombe, in the north of Bandundu Province.

23 January: The first round of a massive measles vaccination campaign is launched in Ituri, following reports in December 2002 of more than 300 measles cases, resulting in the deaths of 16 children.

24 January: In adopting resolution 1457, UN Security Council unanimously approves a new six-month mandate for the panel of experts investigating the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the DRC.

25 January: Indigenous people - commonly referred to as pygmies - from the Ituri District of Province Orientale in northeastern DRC demand that the Kinshasa government create a criminal tribunal to hold accountable those who have committed crimes against them, including murder and cannibalism.

27 January: Authorities in Kinshasa open a judicial inquiry into massacres and cannibalism alleged to have been perpetrated by the MLC and its ally, RCD-N, in Orientale Province.

27 January: A commercial cargo barge with 550 mt of goods arrives in Kisangani in northeastern DRC from the capital, Kinshasa, the first to do so after four years of suspended river traffic due to war.

30 January: EU parliament calls for concrete measures to punish persons found guilty of pillaging the resources of the DRC, including an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into "acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Africa and elsewhere, where such acts were perpetrated to illegally secure natural resources, such as conflict diamonds and timber".

31 January: UN World Food Programme (WFP) begins an emergency operation to airlift food to some 115,000 people in the town of Bunia, northeastern DRC, who have been displaced by fighting.

2 February: Tornado sweeps through town of Yumbi, northwestern Bandundu Province in western DRC. About 17 dead, 4,000 injured, and at least 1,700 families rendered homeless.

4 February: RCD-Goma announces a general amnesty for Mayi-Mayi militias. "They will not be charged with any crime whatsoever. Rather, it is out of our hope for reconciliation and an end to hostilities that we are offering this amnesty," says RCD-Goma spokesman, Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga.

10 February: DRC President Joseph Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni reaffirm their commitment to the Luanda accord of 6 September 2002 following a two-day summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The accord provides for the total withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the DRC and the normalisation of relations between Kinshasa and Kampala.

7 February: An estimated 8,000 Mayi-Mayi militiamen, accused of cannibalism, are disarmed in the Haut Lomami District of southern Katanga Province.

15 February: Kampala and Kinshasa agree in the Angolan capital, Luanda, on modalities for the implementation of the Ituri Pacification Commission and for the withdrawal of Ugandan military forces remaining in northeastern DRC.

17 February: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints Behrooz Sadry as Deputy Special Representative for the DRC, in charge of operations and management of MONUC. He joins Deputy Special Representative Lena Sundh of Sweden, who is in charge of the political, humanitarian, human rights, and gender aspects of the mission.

18 February: Second round of a massive measles vaccination campaign is launched in Ituri.

20 February: After 18 months of work and 71 hearings, the Belgian Senate commission on the exploitation of natural resources in DRC concludes that no illegal acts were committed by the people and companies investigated. Opposition senators refuse to endorse the text, saying that the recommendations "without any content" are aimed at protecting "Belgian political and economic interests in the region".

22 February: RCD-Goma renews its call for an independent inquiry into the November 2002 killings in Ankoro, a village in the southeastern Katanga Province of the DRC. The killings were allegedly perpetrated by the Forces armees congolaises (FAC), the government army. Figures on dead and displaced vary greatly.

22 February: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) launches a campaign to provide supplemental Vitamin A to some 12 million children aged six to 59 months nationwide. The Vitamin A the children will receive during this campaign will supplement an earlier dose received in July 2002 during National Immunisation Days (NIDs).

23 February: UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) launches a massive seeds and tools distribution programme aimed at 266,500 vulnerable households in 17 of the country's provinces.

24 February: All MONUC flights to Bunia are suspended after one of MONUC's helicopters is fired on.

27 February: A commission of inquiry consisting of members of human rights NGOs and the DRC Human Rights Ministry convenes in the city of Mbuji-Mayi, Kasai Oriental Province, to investigate the deaths of miners who died on 21 February under suspicious circumstances in the mines of the Miniere de Bakwanga (Miba), the national mining company.

2 March: In an effort to defuse rising tensions between them, the UPC rebel movement based in Bunia signs an accord with the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF).

5 March: A commission of inquiry comprising members of human rights NGOs and the DRC Human Rights Ministry report that nine illegal miners - not 25, as had been claimed by mining colleagues and human rights activists - died on 21 February in mines in the city of Mbuji-Mayi.

5 March: A 13-ship convoy carrying 626 mt of food aid from WFP arrives in Ankoro, Katanga Province, to benefit some 67,000 people who had been "in urgent need" of food aid since December 2002, according to World Vision International, the NGO responsible for distribution of the goods.

6 March: The UPDF and allied Lendu and Ngiti militiamen oust the UPC from Bunia.

6 March: Parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue agree to a programme for the drafting of a constitution and for a future unified army for a period of a national transitional government eventually leading to national democratic elections in the DRC, following 11 days of discussions held in Pretoria, South Africa.

18 March: Delegates of the Ugandan and DRC governments, different rebel groups, and ethnic militias operating in Ituri sign the Ituri Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in Bunia, under which the UPDF is to withdraw from the DRC on 24 April. The UPC, however, does not sign.

20 March: UN Security Council asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to increase the presence of MONUC, especially in Ituri, where violence has escalated in the recent past. It also asks Annan to increase the number of personnel in MONUC s human rights component "to enhance the capacity of the Congolese parties to investigate all the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights perpetrated on the territory of the country since the beginning of the conflict in 1998".

20 March: A preparatory technical committee for the establishment of the long-awaited Ituri Pacification Commission convenes its first meeting in Bunia as a result of the Ituri Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Formation of the commission has been delayed several times by fighting between various rebel factions and militias.

29 March: RCD-Goma appoints to its ranks four former army officers who had been condemned to death the assassination of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, including Bora Uzima Kamwanya, Georges Mirindi, John Bahati and Amuri Chap Chap. DRC State Prosecutor Luhonge Kabinda Ngoy calls the nominations "an act of provocation".

1 April: In Sun City, South Africa, DRC government and rebel groups unanimously endorse a transitional constitution to govern DRC for two years. They also endorse the global agreement signed in Pretoria on 17 December 2002.

2 April: In Sun City, South Africa, DRC government, rebel movements, political opposition parties and representatives of civil society agree to set up a transitional government to oversee democratic elections after two years. DRC President Joseph Kabila to retain his post, supported by four vice-presidents from rebel groups and the civilian opposition.

3 April: Hundreds killed in Drodro massacre, Ituri District.

4 April: Ituri Pacification Commission is inaugurated in Bunia. The 177-member commission includes representatives of the DRC, Uganda and Angola governments, MONUC, civil society bodies, a business people's association, political and military parties to the conflict in Ituri, and 90 grassroots communities that form the largest block of the commission.

5 April: Kabila promulgates the new transitional constitution agreed at Sun City.

7 April: Kabila is sworn in as the interim head of state of the DRC, to preside over a transitional government to be formed for a two-year period, leading to democratic elections.

8 April: International Rescue Committee (IRC) reports that conflict in the DRC has cost more lives than any other since World War II: IRC estimates that at least 3.3 million Congolese died between August 1998, when the war began, and November 2002. Most deaths are attributed to easily treatable diseases and malnutrition, and were often linked to displacement and the collapse of the country's health services and economy.

13 April: Ituri Pacification Commission adopts a series of interim measures to end hostilities and provide a provisional administration in Ituri District.

16 April: At least 70 people were killed during fighting in November 2002 between government forces and Mayi-Mayi militia in Ankoro, in northern Katanga province, MONUC says in its report.

25 April: Government announces abolition of the Cour d'ordre militaire (COM - Military Order Court), which has been widely criticised by national and international human rights organisations as failing to meet international fair trial standards or allow appeals to a higher or independent jurisdiction.

3 May: Longtime opposition politician Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma is elected by a segment of the political opposition to serve as one of four vice-presidents of a two-year transitional government under President Joseph Kabila.

6 May: Azarias Ruberwa Manywa, RCD-Goma secretary-general, is named as his movement's candidate for the fourth and final vice-presidential post for a two-year national transition government, joining the three vice-presidential candidates already named: MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba; Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, a close ally of DRC President Joseph Kabila; and Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, a representative of the unarmed political opposition.

8 May: An aircraft carrying a government delegation sent to ease hostilities between ethnic militias in Ituri is hit by gunfire as it approaches Bunia airstrip, but manages to land safely in Entebbe, in neighbouring Uganda.

8 May: Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni hold talks in London - the fourth since tension between Rwanda and Uganda mounted after fighting two years earlier in Kisangani - aimed at easing tension between the two countries.

8 May: Air disaster when the rear doors of a cargo plane open shortly after takeoff from Kinshasa, sucking passengers to their death. The death toll is put somewhere between 60 and 170, but government spokesman Kikaya Bin Karubi says the toll "will never be known" because the passenger list was incomplete and survivors say the plane was overloaded.

10 May: Oxfam calls on UN to deploy a rapid reaction force to enforce peace in Bunia.

11 May: Two Red Cross volunteers - both wearing vests that clearly identified them as Red Cross personnel - are killed while carrying out humanitarian duties during fighting in Bunia. In April 2001, six International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) employees were murdered in the same region.

12 May: UPC takes control of Bunia after six days of fighting between rival ethnic militias.

14 May: Two UN military observers are confirmed to have been "savagely killed" in Mongbwalu, north of Bunia.

14 May: Ugandan government vows to take legal action against all individuals identified by the Ugandan Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) as having been involved in the plunder of DRC's natural resources. However, it said it would ignore all other allegations made by a UN expert panel.

16 May: Following a week of heavy fighting, five armed groups that have been involved in battles around the town of Bunia signed an agreement in Dar es Salaam to cease hostilities and re-launch the beleaguered Ituri peace process.

21 May: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International appeal to UN to authorise the deployment of a rapid reaction force to protect civilians in Ituri District, saying MONUC has been unable to protect civilians adequately.

22 May: RCD-Goma withdraws from discussions of the follow-up committee of the inter-Congolese dialogue, accusing the government of trying to keep the post of head of army for itself, and of wanting to control the majority of military regions.

25 May: Visiting Bunia, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, calls for firm and urgent UN intervention to stop further massacres.

29 May: Swearing-in of a transitional government is postponed because of an argument over the composition of the national army.

30 May: RCD-Goma announces it will rejoin negotiations leading to the formation of national transitional institutions in the DRC.

30 May: UN Security Council Resolution 1484 authorises deployment of an interim emergency multinational force in Bunia, until 1 September. France offers to lead the force, and will contribute 750 troops, with the remainder to come from other EU countries. Belgium, Britain, Portugal and Sweden indicate they will contribute to the EU component of the force.

31 May: Dozens of ethnic Hema civilians are killed and dozens others are reportedly abducted by ethnic Lendu militias in Tchomia, 45 km east of Bunia.

2 June: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends a one-year extension of MONUC's mandate, and calls for an increase in MONUC's authorised military strength from 8,700 to 10,800.

4 June: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints two special envoys to help with the formation of a unified national army: Moustapha Niasse, who had served as Annan's special envoy for the DRC peace process, and Gen Maurice Baril of Canada, who had served as a military advisor to the UN.

6 June: An advance unit of French soldiers arrives in Bunia to prepare for the arrival of an estimated 1,400 multinational peace enforcement troops.

10 June: ICRC completes what it termed a "vast operation" to help some 35,000 civilians in Ankoro, northern Katanga Province, ravaged by fighting at the end of 2002.

11 June: EU Council agrees to deploy troops as part of the 1,500-strong multinational force, codenamed "Artemis", requested by UN Security Council Resolution 1484.

11 June: Rival opposition movements and the government assure a visiting UN Security Council delegation that they will form a transitional government by 30 June.

13 June: UN World Health Organisation (WHO) expresses concern over the spread of cholera in Kasai Oriental Province, central DRC, with a high risk of the epidemic spreading to the neighbouring province, Kasai Occidental. The most affected provinces are Sud Kivu, where 1,387 cases including 26 deaths had been reported; Katanga - 7,557 cases with 221 deaths, and Kasai Oriental, where 3,098 cases and 89 deaths had been reported.

16 June: Azarias Ruberwa is appointed leader of RCD-Goma, replacing Adolphe Onusumba Yemba, who had held the post since October 2000. Ruberwa, one of four vice president-designates of a national transitional government, had previously served as RCD-Goma secretary-general, also since October 2000. Ruberwa becomes the fourth head of the RCD-Goma movement after Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, Emile Ilunga Kalambo and Onusumba, who would be appointed to other functions within the movement.

16 June: President Joseph Kabila launches a nationwide campaign to promote the registration of births in the country, to coincide with the annual Day of the African Child.

19 June: RCD-Goma captures Lubero, North Kivu Province, as a ceasefire deal for the region is signed in Bujumbura among all parties to the conflict: RCD-Goma, the Kinshasa government and the RCD-Kisangani/Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K/ML) to which Kinshasa is allied.

19 June: Two UN military observers are abducted by unidentified assailants in Beni, North Kivu Province. They are released unharmed on 21 June.

25 June: Multinational force sets boundaries beyond which all armed militias must withdraw.

26 June: Former prime minister, Leon Kengo wa Dondo, is charged by a Brussels court with money laundering during the reign of late President Mobutu Sese Seko.

30 June: Kabila names his transitional government to lead the country out of nearly five years of war to democratic elections in 2005.

1 July: Amos Namanga Ngongi, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the DRC, completes his nearly two-year mandate, to be replaced by US diplomat William Lacy Swing.

6 July: MONUC announces that a 3,800-strong force will be deployed in Ituri District and other locations, to ensure the 1 September handover from the French-led multinational peace enforcement mission.

12 July: Uganda says it will reopen investigations into the murder of six employees of the ICRC that took place in April 2001 in Ituri District. At the time of the murders, Ituri was under the control of the Ugandan army.

15 July: EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, calls on UN Security Council to authorise a stronger mandate for MONUC similar to that of the EU-led multinational peace enforcement mission deployed to Bunia.

16 July: First elements of a planned 3,800-strong UN peacekeeping task force for Ituri District arrive in Bunia.

16 July: The ICC selects Ituri District as "the most urgent situation" under its jurisdiction to be addressed.

17 July: The four vice-presidents of the DRC's two-year transitional government take the oath of office in Kinshasa.

18 July: Transitional government officials designated by the DRC's two principal former rebel movements - RCD-Goma and the MLC - refuse to take the oath of office because it included swearing allegiance to President Joseph Kabila.

21 July: The mutilated bodies of 22 civilians, primarily women and children, are discovered by a patrol of the EU-led multinational force in Nizi, a village 22 km north of Bunia.

23 July: Rival ethnic militias in Ituri agree to disarm, withdraw to rear bases and to participate in joint verification exercises.

24 July: 11 Congolese civilians murdered near the town of Baraka in southeastern South Kivu Province, allegedly by fighters belonging to an alliance of the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), a rebel group from neighbouring Burundi; Rwandan former military (ex-FAR); and Congolese Mayi-Mayi militias in the area.

24 July: RCD-Goma and MLC transitional government officials take their oath of office in Kinshasa, after a modification is made in the pledge of allegiance.

25 July: During its first meeting, the newly-inaugurated ministers of the transitional government resolve to make resolution of the conflict in Ituri District a major priority, with a consultative committee to be sent to the area imminently.

25 July: An estimated 7.3 million children under five years old to be vaccinated against polio in some 200 health zones in the provinces of Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai Oriental and Occidental, Katanga, Maniema, North and South Kivu.

28 July: UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution giving MONUC a stronger mandate and increasing its authorised strength from 8,700 to 10,800 troops. The council also extends the mission's mandate for another year, until 30 July 2004, and institutes a 12-month arms embargo against foreign and Congolese armed groups in the east of the country.

28 July: Under the IMF and World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, DRC's total external debt is due to be reduced by about 80 percent - approximately US $10 billion in nominal terms (or US $6.3 billion in net present value terms).

30 July: Six people - five men of Lendu ethnicity, and one woman of Nande ethnicity - are stoned to death by angry residents of Bunia.

1 August: RCD-Goma says it is willing to make concessions regarding the partition of responsibilities for newly-created military regions.

3 August: First commercial river convoy of eight barges reaches Kisangani from Kinshasa since the installation of a national transition government on 30 June.

6 August: Former belligerent parties reach agreement on the division of military zones, which will enable Kabila to name the chief of staff of the unified national army as well as other leaders of the military forces.

18 August: Controversy over military leader nominees resolved as RCD-Goma submits a revised list of candidates for top military posts; the previous list of candidates proposed by RCD-Goma provoked an outcry from Kabila and other members of the former Kinshasa government, as well as from the International Committee to Accompany the Transition (known by its French acronym CIAT) because of its inclusion of individuals suspected of involvement in the assassination of late president Laurent-Desire Kabila, Joseph's father, on 16 January 2001.

19 August: Kabila names officers to lead the nation's unified national military, incorporating elements from all former armed rebel groups signatory to a national power-sharing accord, as well as Mayi-Mayi militias.

22 August: In a memorandum of understanding signed at the end of talks in Kinshasa, Ituri militias agree to work with the newly-inaugurated transitional government in restoring state authority across the region.

22 August: The National Assembly and Senate of DRC's two-year transitional government are opened by President Joseph Kabila and his four vice-presidents.

24 August: Burundian rebels of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) allegedly kill at least a dozen people - mainly women and children - in Rusabagi, 85 km south of Bukavu in South Kivu Province.

26 August: Human rights activists criticise the appointment of military officials alleged to have been involved in massacres in Kisangani during hostilities that erupted in May 2002, including Gabriel Amisi (alias "Tango Fort") and Laurent Nkunda, both from the RCD-Goma former rebel movement.

26 August: Under Resolution 1501, UN Security Council authorises the EU-led multinational peace enforcement mission in Bunia to provide assistance to MONUC, as the former withdraws and the latter is reinforced and deployed in and around Bunia.

28 August: Kabila submits a written declaration of his wealth to parliament, in accordance with the national transition constitution that came out of the inter-Congolese peace and reconciliation dialogue.

28 August: New WWF census finds a 95-percent decline in the hippopotamus population in Virunga National Park, on the eastern border of the DRC, once home to the world's largest hippo population.

31 August: A failed mutiny takes place in Kisangani, Orientale Province.

31 August: UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DRC, Iulia Motoc, says there are indications that genocide may have occurred in Ituri.

1 September: The French-led multinational force in Bunia hands over security duties to MONUC.

1 September: Installation of leaders of DRC's unified national military is postponed. Although no official reason is given, military sources says that some officers from the RCD-Goma former rebel movement, now party to a power-sharing national transitional government, have not yet arrived in Kinshasa.

5 September: The leadership of a newly unified national military is inaugurated in Kinshasa, although some debate remains as to what the new force will be called.

9 September: DRC military chief of staff Lt-Gen Liwanga Mata Nyamunyobo summons three officers of the RCD-Goma - Brig-Gen Laurent Nkunda, colonels Elie Gichondo and Erick Ruhorimbere, who had been named commander and deputy commanders, respectively, of three of the country's 10 military regions - to appear before the Military High Court (Haute Cour Militaire) for having refused to take part in the inauguration of the newly-unified national army.

9 September: Mayi-Mayi militias and soldiers of RCD-Goma begin reconciliation efforts in Burale, 60 km southeast of Bukavu in South Kivu Province.

15 September: MONUC arrests about 100 people, including two major figures of the UPC, after fighting erupts during a protest of MONUC's "Bunia Without Arms" campaign.

17 September: Military officials and members of parliament of RCD-Goma demand a general amnesty and security guarantees before reporting to Kinshasa.

20 September: The national unity government announces it will be taking a number of measures to fight increased crime in Kinshasa and other cities across the country.

23 September: Two rival militias in Bunia - the primarily Hema Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), and the primarily Lendu Front des Nationalistes Integrationnistes (FNI) - agree to allow the free circulation of people and goods in the region.

26 September: The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC says it will investigate the role of businesses operating in Europe, Asia and North America in fuelling crimes against humanity in the DRC.

28 September: Veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi returns to Kinshasa after a self-imposed two-year exile spent largely in South Africa, but says he will not take part in the country's transitional government.

29 September: Former rebel groups now party to the two-year power-sharing government of national unity are authorised to function as political parties while awaiting such a law to be enacted by the National Assembly.

1 October: An agreement to cease hostilities between forces of Gen David Padiri Bulenda's Mayi-Mayi militia and the RCD-Goma former rebel movement - both now parties to the national power-sharing government - is signed in Shabunda, South Kivu Province. The accord calls for an immediate ceasefire, the free circulation of persons and goods, and the creation of a follow-up commission comprising three members from each of the two sides to monitor implementation of the agreement.

2 October: Citing an inadequate number of domestic latrines and poor access to potable water as primary causes, the International Federation of the Red Cross warns of recurring outbreaks of cholera in Kasai Oriental Province and the city of Mbuji-Mayi, in particular.

6 October: At least 55 people, most of them women and children, are killed in the Kashele area of Ituri District.

6 October: 16 civilians, primarily women, killed during an attack on the village of Ndunda, 30 km north of the town of Uvira, South Kivu Province. Witnesses tell MONUC that the killings were carried out by a group of 20 who spoke Kirundi, the national language of neighbouring Burundi.

8 October: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni declares that his country would not be drawn back into conflict in the DRC, regardless of whichever Ugandan rebels were using instability in the country's eastern provinces as a cloak for their activities.

9 October: Ituri militias agree to the cantonment of their forces, a promise they have made on previous occasions.

9 October: Eleven children are killed and 73 injured, 25 severely, when lightning strikes their school in the village of Bikoro, some 128 km south of the town of Mbandaka in northwestern DRC.

10 October: First permanent deployment of MONUC forces beyond the town of Bunia begins.

16 October: Government says it will no longer tolerate the presence on its national territory of elements of the Rwandan former army (ex-FAR) and Rwandan Hutu former militias (Interahamwe) who fled their country into neighbouring DRC after playing a major role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

20 October: Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontieres (RSF), an international media watchdog NGO, ranks the DRC among the 50 countries "that respect press freedom least".

21 October: The International Committee to Accompany the Transition (known by its French acronym, CIAT) overseeing the two-year transitional process in the DRC chides the national unity government for a wide range of delays which, it said, "risked jeopardising the holding of nationwide elections within the next 24 months".

22 October: Rwandan foreign minister Charles Muligande announces that his government will set up a commission of inquiry to investigate two cases of alleged illegal exploitation of the DRC's natural resources by Rwandan companies and individuals.

23 October: Mbusa Nyamwisi, DRC minister for regional cooperation, confirms reports of the presence of Ugandan rebel training camps in his country's northeastern North Kivu Province, in the region between Beni and Kasindi.

28 October: UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other forms of Wealth of the DRC releases its final report, listing names of individuals, companies and governments involved in the plunder of gems and minerals, and recommending measures to be taken to curb the exploitation.

29 October: Following several weeks of being denied access to RCD-Goma-controlled military camps in North Kivu, which it hoped would enable verification of the alleged presence of Rwandan troops on DRC territory, MONUC is granted access by North Kivu Governor Eugene Serufuli.

30 October: Magistrates begin an indefinite nationwide strike, demanding better pay and working conditions, as well as greater independence of action.

3 November: DRC's national programme against AIDS (Programme national de lutte contre le sida) says the prevalence of HIV/AIDS may have reached 20 percent in certain regions of the country.

5 November: MONUC accuses government of blocking an inquiry into the crash landing of a cargo plane believed to have been transporting illegal arms to groups in South Kivu Province. The plane was reported to have crashed the previous week at the Kamina military base, in central Katanga Province.

7 November: UK announces what it terms a "major increase" in financial aid to the DRC over the period 2003-06, "so long as the transition process remains on track".

7 November: The International Court of Justice postpones hearings scheduled to open on 10 November in the case concerning "Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)", at the request of the DRC government. Uganda said it supported the DRC's proposal.

15 November: Voluntary return to neighbouring Rwanda of 103 members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR - Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda), including FDLR leader Paul Rwarakabije, after almost a decade in the DRC.

19 November: UN agencies and partner NGOs request US $187 million to provide protection and aid to populations in the DRC in 2004, under the Consolidated Appeal Process.

22 November: Some 2,000 people associated with Mayi-Mayi militias are demobilised in Kindu, eastern DRC, to either return to civilian life or to be integrated into the national army.

25 November: Kabila reinstates 315 magistrates sacked en-masse in 1998 for striking over pay and independence of the judiciary.

25 November: Between 100-200 people perish when a ferry collides with a fishing boat on Lake Mai-Ndombe, some 50 km from the town of Inongo, in Bandundu Province.

27 November: DRC and Rwanda recommit themselves to complete the repatriation of Rwandan Interahamwe militia and former soldiers in the Congo within a year.

27 November: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's younger brother Reserve Force commander and army representative in parliament, Lt-Gen Salim Saleh resigns amid persistent allegations that he spearheaded his country's plunder of natural resources in neighbouring DRC during nearly five years of Ugandan occupation.

11 December: Journaliste en danger (JED), a national media watchdog NGO in the DRC, reports an "improving situation" with regard to freedom of the press in the country.

11 December: UN Security Council urges the transitional national government to adopt a national disarmament, demobilization, reintegration (DDR) programme, and to accelerate reform of the armed and police forces.

14 December: MONUC begins repatriating 250 Ugandan ex-combatants from rebel movements opposed to the Ugandan government, along with 147 dependents. MONUC hails the return as a "breakthrough in the normalisation of relations between Uganda and Congo", adding that it would be useful in convincing other Ugandan rebels still at large in eastern DRC to return.

15 December: UNICEF and the government launch a national campaign to promote education of all girls.

31 December: Maj-Gen Mountaga Diallo retires after nearly four years as MONUC Force Commander.


"DRC-Rwanda: Refugees, ex-combatants return from DRC"

A total of 1,455 refugees, including former Hutu combatants, returned to Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in November and December 2003, the official UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, told IRIN on Monday.

The MONUC Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation, Reinsertion and Reintegration (DDRRR) officer in Kigali, Chimene Mandakovic, said some 207 refugees, among them 155 former combatants, had returned to Rwanda between 17 November and 31 December.

The highest number had been registered from 17 to 31 November 2003, with a total of 1,183 refugees returning home, Mandakovic said.

Most of the returnees fled Rwanda at the height of the 1994 genocide and have mainly been living in the war-ravaged provinces of North and South Kivu in eastern DRC.

Mandakovic attributed the increase in the numbers of returnees to an improved political and security situation in eastern DRC, and to the return in November of the Hutu rebel commander, Paul Rwarakabije.

He said MONUC's DDRRR office had redoubled efforts to complete its demobilisation and repatriation programme to pave the way for a smooth end of the transitional period in the DRC and help foster normal relations between Rwanda and the DRC.

"We have been working with increased speed to complete this operation as soon as soon possible to pave the way for a good transitional period," he said. "We hope we can speed it up even faster."

On arrival at transit camps, the returnees are issued with a repatriation package by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, comprising a three-month food ration and basic non-food items such as jerry cans, kitchen utensils, blankets, soap and plastic sheeting.

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Other data on Congo - Kinshasa / Autres données sur le Congo - Kinshasa