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Congo: DRC-MONUC is over

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Finally, UN has decided to UN Security Council that the campaign in the east of the country had “largely achieved” its goal of weakening the Rwandan Hutu rebels. It has to be recalled that the operation was severely criticized for the misuse by the Congolese government troops for killing and raping civilians. Human rights groups have denounced Congolese government troops in the campaign, known as Kimia II, for the deaths of more than 1,400 civilians in the Kivu region. Now, Congolese troops backed by the UN force “will now concentrate on holding ground recovered from the FDLR and preventing attacks on civilians in areas of vulnerability”. MONUC, with more than 15,000 military and civilian personnel, one of the largest UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, has provided help to the Congolese forces in military campaigns to wipe out the Rwandan Hutu rebel group known as FDLR. It has been also said that some sections of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) were conniving with insurgents of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)

1. UN experts had said the campaign failed to dismantle militia infrastructure.

2. The rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), has deeply entrenched in the Eastern Congo and it was not possible to uproot them outrightly.

3. Kimia II, the joint DRC-MONUC operation to clean out exgenocidaires in eastern Congo. Oxfam, ICG, and the Catholic Bishops oppose it.

4. Declaring that Operations Umoja Wetu and Kimia II both failed to root out FDLR militia while further endangering area civilians, the International Crisis Group called for the Congolese military to halt its operations against the FDLR until it develops a more comprehensive strategy for dealing with them.

The FDLR is a paramilitary organization involved in the Congolese civil war and which operates near the border with Rwanda. The organization is a collection of various Hutu militias which fled to Congo following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The group changed its name numerous times until, in  2000, they settled on FDLR. In 2000, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda was founded in the Congolese town of Lumumbashi. It is the primary remnant Rwandian Hutu Power rebel group in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The group is often referred to as the  FDLR after its original French name: the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda. As of December 2009, Major General Sylvestre Mudacumura was the FDLR’s overall military commander. He was the former deputy commander of the FAR Presidential Guard in Rwanda in 1994.

Following the signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement in July 1999 between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and five regional States in July 1999, the Security Council established the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC- a French acronym for Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique
du Congo) by its resolution 1279 (1999) of 30 November 1999, initially to plan for the observation of the ceasefire and disengagement of forces and maintain liaison with all parties to the Ceasefire Agreement. On February 24, 2000 with the resolution 1291, the U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of a maximum of 5537 military personnel in the DRC, including 500 military observers. On April 4, 2000 the Senegalese Major General Mountago Diallo was appointed as the
commander of MONUC’s military force. The mission had three objectives: (a) to dismantle the FDLR – the last significant rebel challenge to its authority; (b) to protect vulnerable communities from rebel violence; and (c) to establish state authority and the rule of law. The headquarters of the mission are in Kinshasa, DRC. The mission views the DRC as consisting of 6 sectors, each with its own staff headquarters. In 2005-6 the Eastern  Division however was formed at Kisangani and took over brigades in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri, along with two or three of the Sector HQs. The approved budget for MONUC, from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, is US$1,166.72 million, the largest for any current UN peacekeeping operation.

Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960. Landed boundary: total: 10,730 km Border countries: Angola 2,511 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Tanzania 459 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km.

Area: 2,344,885;

Population: 68,692,542 by July 2009; country comparison to the world: 18. Monetary Unit: Congo Franc;  

Government: Executive branch: Chief of state: President Joseph Kabila (since 17 January 2001); note - following the assassination of his father, Joseph Kabila succeeded to the presidency which he retained through the 2003-06 transition; he was subsequently elected president in October 2006;

Head of government: Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito (since 10 October 2008)

Cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the President;

Elections: Under the new constitution the President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held 30 July 2006 and 29 October 2006 (next to be held in October 2011); Prime minister appointed by the President; Election results: Joseph Kabila elected president; percent of vote (second round) - Joseph Kabila 58 per cent, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo 42 per cent, Legislative branch: Bicameral legislature consists of a Senate (108 seats; members elected by provincial assemblies to serve five-year terms) and a National Assembly (500 seats; 61 members elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies, 439 members elected by open list proportional- representation in multi-member constituencies; to serve five-year terms) Elections: Senate - last held 19 January 2007 (next to be held by 2012); National Assembly - last held 30 July 2006 (next to be held in July 2011).

Ethnic groups: Lunda, Luba, Kuba, Bakongo (Kongo), Mongo, Mangbetu, and Azande. Others: Bantu, Nilo-Sa-haran, African-Asian, European and Asian groups.

Languages: French (official), Lingala, Kikongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, other indigenouslanguages.

Religious Affiliations: Roman Catholic (52 per cent), Protestant (20 per cent), Kimbanguist (10 percent), Muslim (2 per
cent), other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs (16 per cent).

The region was first united as the Congo Free State, a colony created by Belgian king Leopold II in the late 19th century. The colony was called the Belgian Congo from 1908 until 1960, when it gained independence as the Republic of the Congo. Its name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1964 and then to Zaire in 1971. Kabila changed the country’s name back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC is bounded on the north by the Central African Republic
and the Republic of the Sudan; on the east by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Lake Tanganyika (which separates the DRC from Tanzania); on the south by Zambia and Angola; and on the west by the Republic of the Congo and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda.

Kinshasa, nation in central A f - rica, a vast country of dense forests traversed by the powerful Congo River. DR Congo is at the heart of the equatorial region of Sub-Saharan Africa and includes 47 per cent of the continent's forest. The Congo River and its tributaries form an economic lifeline due to the lack of decent roads. The vast country has huge deposits of
diamonds, copper and coltan - important in the production of high-tech goods - and its forests are home to rare species. Five national parks are listed by Unesco as World Heritage in Danger because of threats from conflict and mining. The parks' wildlife in cludes mountain gorillas, savannah giraffe and rare white rhino.

The DRC has a total area of 2,344,885 sq km (905,365 sq mi) and is the third largest country in Africa, after Sudan and Algeria.

The Congo [4,374 km (2,718 mi)] is the second longest river in Africa and the seventh longest in the world.  

The Ruwenzori Range, on the Ugandan border, contains the DRC’s highest point, Margherita Peak (5,109 m/ 16,762 ft). Exports: $6.1 billion (2007): country comparison to the world: 102; $1.587 billion (2006); Exports - commodities: diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, wood products, crude oil, coffee;  Exports - prtners: China 48.4 per cent, Belgium 15.8 percent, Finland 9.8 per cent, US 8.3 per cent, Zambia 4.5 per cent (2008): Imports: $5.2 billion (2007); coun- try comparison to the world: 113; $2.263 billion (2006); Imports - commodities:foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels; Imports - partners: South Africa 28.7 per cent, Belgium 10 per cent, Zambia 7.2 per cent, Zimbabwe 6 per cent, China 5.9 per cent, Kenya 5.1 per cent, France 4.7 per cent (2008). The $870m diamond industry provides work for around one million people, but many diggers earn less than $1 a day in dangerous conditions