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Dozens Of Banyamulenge Killed In DRC Under Cover Of #COVID-19

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As the world is grounded to a halt under measures for stopping the spread of #COVID-19, the Banyamulenge tribe in DR Congo’s highlands of South Kivu Province is being killed in broad daylight and the world is silent.

For example, on April 19, Banyamulenge women moved out of their houses to their gardens to harvest food for stocking under the lockdown. As a routine, they are escorted by Congolese army and allowed a few minutes in the gardens.

However, on this fateful day, a group of Banyamulenge women in the highlands of Fizi, Mwenga and Uvira were pounced on while in their gardens by armed groups.

They were brutally raped and mutilated. Some of them died. Others managed to escape. Many others are still missing.

Charles Mukiza, the leader of Banyamulenge Community living in Kinshasa issued a statement denouncing the acts of barbarity, killings and rape that members of his tribe continue to suffer.

He implored the justice system, both civil and military, to carry out meticulous investigations. The community is seeking justice for the victims. They demand that the perpetrators of these cruel and inhuman acts be punished.

Banyamulenge have lived in the DR Congo for centuries but for a long time were not recognized as citizens of this vast mineral rich state. Former President Mobutu Seseseko signed a decree granting the Banyamulenge tribe an irrevocable citizenship.

But since then, other tribes in the DR Congo keep harassing Banyamulenge, claiming they are not Congolese and that they should return to their country of origin.

According to the Central African Observatory, Banyamulenge are people from the former Kingdom of Rwanda.

“The Banyamulenge are Congolese,” President Felix Tshisekedi said in January during an interaction session with diaspora in London, UK.

Banyamulenge youth carry bodies of women killed on 19th April,2020 . They were attacked my Mai Mai rebels

The Banyamulenge question has been interpreted differently and on many occasions used by politicians to gunner support, yet leaving this tribe severely insecure.

President Tshisekedi at his inaugural speech said he would deploy the army and remove all foreign armies and neutralize all local militias that are a threat to national security.

The province of South Kivu is infested with many armed groups, in particular the Raïa Mutomboki in the territories of Shabunda and Mwenga, the Mayi-Mayi in the territories of Uvira and Fizi, the inter-ethnic conflict in the high plateaux of Bijombo, Minembwe and Itombwe, and many other groups.

Boniface Balamage, the Second Vice President DR Congo Parliament also from South Kivu, in March while on holiday in Kivu gathered provincial leaders to collectively discuss the insecurity problem in the region.

“The war that is going on in the highlands of Minembwe is not justified. We must begin to understand that it is time to make peace to give peace to the people and to secure our territory, our province,” he said.

Balamage challenged provincial leaders on what they have done to put an end to this situation with regard to their responsibilities, whether central government or the provincial government.

According to the Congolese Army, this region hosts various armed groups, especially the foreign rebel forces CNRD, FDLR (Rwandan rebels) and FNL (From Burundi)

The armed groups are mostly active in Uvira, Fizi and Mwenga areas and claim to be members of local communities. They clash regularly and have already displaced over 50,000 people, hundreds of them dead and villages burned down. Military efforts in the region have failed to overcome the violence.

National Liberation Forces (FNL) is a Burundian rebel group the crossed into South Kivu where they created rear bases to fight the Burundian armed forces. The FNL is currently in an alliance with Mai Mai Yakutumba and FDLR in South Kivu.

The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) is the largest illegal foreign armed group operating in the DR Congo.

UN Peacekeepers of Southern Sector in DR Congo meets with IDP elders to discuss prevailing security situation and protection of IDPs camp.

Why Rwanda is mentioned  

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is the only leader that has openly and repeatedly denounced the barbaric killings targeting Banyamulenge people in the DRC and calls for an end to the insecurity.

On Monday April 27, President Kagame engaged the press via video conferencing and addressed several issues including insecurity in the Eastern part of DR Congo.

He said the newly elected government in DR Congo has fortunately agreed to work with its neighbours to resolve insecurity issues in the country’s Eastern Region.

President Kagame says his government has been collecting intelligence about the armed groups in DR Congo and passed it on to the Kinshasa government and the UN (Monusco) as Rwanda’s contribution in jointly dealing with the situation.

“Through our intelligence collection which we share with those supposed to be dealing with the situation in that part of DR Congo. We give it to them so that they can do what they are supposed to do,” he said.

For example, President Kagame said, “Our intelligence collection tells us Burundi government forces are operating in that part of DR Congo.”

The Rwandan President who is vastly knowledgeable about geopolitics of the Great Lakes Region said for the past 26 years, armed groups have been evolving but there is always one constant; the failure to deal with this problem.

“Even the discussion in the past 26 years has been to deal with the problem. What is even worse is certain people responsible for dealing with the situation end up perpetuating the situation by relying on rumours, lies and myths,” he said.

On the situation in South of Bukavu, Kagame is concerned that in this part of DR Congo, there are some experts who don’t see what is there that is supposed to be seen by anyone who is on ground but instead end up seeing what is not there.

“How could someone be talking about Rwandans or RDF in that part of the region? Because they are not there,” Kagame wondered.

He explained that Rwandans that are rumoured to be in DR Congo are not RDF soldiers but Rwandan armed groups formed after several breakups of the FDLR.

“Take it from me; there is not a single Rwandan soldier in South Kivu,” Kagame said, adding that the DR Congo government knows there is no single Rwandan soldier in that part of the world, but some NGOs and journalists claim otherwise.

A team of jungle experts from the MONUSCO Brazilian contingent have been providing training in jungle warfare to various battalions of the Congolese Army (FARDC) currently engaged in Operations in the eastern part of the country.

North Kivu

According to President Kagame, Rwanda provides intelligence on the activities of the armed groups as a major tool in designing operations to remove them.

“We give information about rebel activities to our partners in the region including UN and others. They started acting based on our information especially in Northern Kivu,” Kagame said on April 27.

However, President Kagame is concerned that to some people based on their interests, DR Congo government should not be working with neighbours, because, for some reasons, they would want to preserve the insecurity.

Before the Congolese Army and UN force launched attacks against the armed groups in North Kivu, including FDLR, Ugandan rebels ADF and many others, the Rwanda’s intel was crucial.

“They started acting on information we gave them because they were also able to verify and see the trends in North Kivu,” he told journalists in a hour-long interaction.

“When they started operations and based on this information and collaboration we had with them, now the whole thing turned against them. Then a dynamic is set up internally to start questioning and harassing the DR Congo government. They create a monster that it is the RDF that crossed the border to carry out the operation.”

President Kagame wishes that the UN Peacekeeping force would deal with the problem but they are not as the plight of the innocent Congolese civilians hangs in the air.

Congolese Army has Intensified its attacks against the bases of Ugandan rebels ADF in North Kivu. The recent attack took place this week in Bwerere, about 4 km from Halungupa. 6 civilians and 2 soldiers were killed.

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Politics

Shoot Anyone Carrying AK-47 in Bush -President Buhari

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Nigeria’s President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to shoot anyone seen with AK-47.

Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu disclosed this directive during an interview with the BBC, saying the president directed a clampdown on bandits who have refused to surrender.

On the efforts being made to rid Zamfara and other northern states of bandits, Shehu said the government is resorting to lethal force.

“The president has ordered security forces to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with sophisticated weapons like AK-47,” he said in the interview monitored by TheCable.

“He ordered that whoever is seen with terrible weapons at all should be shot immediately.” ‘Jets being used to transport arms to Zamfara’ Shehu also said the Federal government declared Zamfara a no-fly zone following intelligence that arms are being transported to the bandits with private jets.

He said the jets are also used to cart away gold from the state to Dubai, which, according to him, prompted the ban on mining activities also announced on Tuesday.

“These jets are being used to pick up gold that is being mined in some parts of Zamfara and exported. This is strong because at the moment,” he said.

“There is a Nigerian gold market in Dubai. The government is losing, the people of this country are losing, that’s why it is said that gold mining is banned for those who are not made by the government.”

The ban on mining activities in Zamfara was first announced in April 2017 amid reports that actors going after the state’s gold reserves are fuelling its security crisis.

Commitment to end insecurity lacking — North-East govs Meanwhile, North East Governors, yesterday, called on Federal Government to be more proactive and committed to the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the country, saying the current situation suggests that the commitment was not there.

The governors’ position came on a day Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, asked the Federal Government to also extend to Benue, Taraba and Borno the ‘’no fly zone’’ order placed on Zamfara State by President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that choppers also drop arms in these states for bandits and insurgents.

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Politics

Bahati Lukwebo Elected President of DRC Senate

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The Senate of Democratic Republic of Congo has a newly elected President, Senator Modeste Bahati Lukwebo.

Senator Modeste Bahati Lukwebo won the vote on Tuesday March 02 with an overwhelming majority.

Of the 99 voting Senators, 89 voted for the AFDC-A Political Grouping.

Acoording to political analysts inside DRC, this vote result does not come as a suprise since majority of Senators have joined the Sacred Union advocated by President Felix Tshisekedi.

Modeste Bahati Lukwebo succeeds Alexis Thambwe Mwamba who was recently forced to resign with part of his office.

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East-Africa

President Uhuru Takes Over EAC Chairmanship

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President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya has taken over the Chairmanship of East African Community (EAC)  bloc.

“Thank you for showing confidence, faith and trust in me. I promise to do all I can to take our region to greater heights,” Uhuru said on Saturday.

The Kenyan President assured that he will spare no effort towards the realization of the shared aspirations that gave rebirth to the community 20 years ago.

Uhuru spoke when he addressed the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held virtually due to Covid-19 after taking over the chairmanship from Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

He hailed the late former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi and the late former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, acknowledging the role they played together with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in the rebirth of EAC 20 years ago.

President Uhuru outlined his vision for the bloc, saying he will focus on strengthening of partnerships to enhance intra-EAC connectivity and ensuring sustainable implementation of projects and programs in productive sectors.

He emphasized the need for partner states to harmonize their commitment on free movement of people, workers and services as envisaged in the region’s common market protocol.

President Kenyatta announced Kenya’s decision to remove visa requirement for South Sudanese nationals visiting the country as an act of reciprocity.

President Kagame congratulated President Kenyatta on his assumption of the chairmanship of the EAC and welcomed Dr Mathuki as the new EAC Secretary General.

The East African Community bloc is composed of six countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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