DRC army colluding with rebel groups — UN

Some elements in the Democratic Republic of Congo army are colluding with rebel groups and are illegally trafficking in minerals and timber from combat zones, a United Nations monitoring group said last week.

This corruption and collusion accounts is part for the ineffectiveness of DRC army operations against the two largest rebel forces in the eastern part of the country, the UN team said in a report to the Security Council.

DRC soldiers have warned combatants of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Rwanda that their camps were about to be attacked, the monitors found, citing five FDLR members as sources of this claim.

The rebels consequently abandoned those camps, but few of their leaders or rank-and-file members have been killed or captured during the DRC army offensive that got underway in February, the report said.

Loss of bases did disrupt the FDLR’s ability to generate revenue from production of charcoal, mining operations and extortion of local populations, the monitors added.

But, they said, “the movement’s top-level leadership, troop strength and overall military capacity remained largely intact as at August 2015.”

Some DRC army officers are also continuing to profit from illegal exploitation of natural resources, the report added.

The monitors cite an attempt in March to smuggle 4425 kilogrammes of coltan, a mineral used in the manufacture of mobile phones, in which DRC soldiers exchanged fire with the South Kivu provincial anti-smuggling unit.

The offensive against the FDLR, some of whose members were involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, was planned as a joint operation involving a special UN combat brigade deployed in the DRC.

But the UN announced early this year it would not join the effort due to human rights abuses it said had been carried out by two DRC army generals assigned to the anti-FDLR campaign.