Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Weekend Round Up

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he plans to appoint former Irish President Mary Robinson as his envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa to oversee a UN-mediated peace deal meant to end the interminable cycles of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A small girl washes her hands in a puddle near a Monusco base
in Kitshanga. Among the photos by Silvain Liechti depicting the
aftermath of the battle for Kitshanga in early March. 
Le Monde reports that the DRC remains at the very bottom of world rankings in the latest UNDP human development report:

According to the UNDP, 87.7% of the population living in the DRC is below the poverty line, set at $ 1.25 per day. Nearly three-quarters of the 68 million Congolese live below a "multidimensional poverty index" that takes into account access to health care and food.

The report did note improvements in life expectancy and schooling. 

Prison deaths doubled in 2012 in the DRC, according to a joint report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and MONUSCO highlighting the deterioration in Congolese prisons. Inmate deaths doubled in 2012 compared to the previous year, bringing to 101 the number of people dead in the country's prisons.

The Kivus
Bosco Ntaganda fled the DRC and is currently hiding in Rwanda, says DRC spokesman Lambert Mende. He fled over the weekend with his top lieutenants and several hundred troops. (The Rwandan government, however, emphatically denies that he is in their country.) Meanwhile, Jean Marie Runiga, the former president of the M23, also fled to Rwanda, where he was arrested by the GoR. AFP reports the Ntaganda/Runiga faction was routed in a battle late last week when they ran out of ammunition.

RFI reports that divisions within the M23 are holding up the signing of the recently concluded peace agreement. François Rucogoza, longstanding head of the M23 delegation, claims he continues to represent the M23, but opponents say he remains loyal to Jean-Marie Runiga, who was ousted from his position as president last month (and appears to have been arrested in Rwanda). Runiga's successor, Bertrand Bissimwa, has appointed a new leader: René Abandi, who claims to represent the "true delegation."

Meanwhile, Africa Confidential reports that things are moving Bissimwa's direction. Diplomatic moves are afoot, it says, to reintegrate the rebels, ending the revolt by agreeing to their demands and putting Jean-Bosco Ntaganda out in the cold.

Radio Okapi reports that fighting broke out between the military and the Maï-Maï Raia Mutomboki on Saturday in Walikali, near Itebero and Likoka.

The Pole Institute blames insecurity in North Kivu on poor governance and a disastrous economy.

Kinshasa governor André Kimbuta Yango iss promising to add 500 new buses to general circulation.

Doctor Denis Mukwege met with some 200 women in Kinshasa hospitals over the weekend and suggested that the government create one-stop case management centers to deal the city's increasing number of rape victims.

The country's first national arts festival will be held in Kinshasa beginning on March 20, on the themed of unity amid cultural diversity.

Elsewhere in the Great Lakes
JamboNews says the Rwandan government is asking that all visitors to Kigali report where they will be staying while in the city. In related matters, the government has told all cell phone owners to register their SIM cards with the govenrment by July 31 or risk having their phones blocked. 

Blog Provocations
Tom Murphy at the Christian Science Monitor follows up on last month's piece by Laura Heaton at Foreign Policy to ask whether rape statistics in eastern Congo are being inflated to increase aid. Heaton's piece questioned the accuracy of the contemporaneous reporting, including a story on the front page of the New York Times, that some two hundred women had been raped in four days in August 2010 in Luvungi, a small town in eastern Congo.

Syfia Grands Lacs features a short interview with Denis Mukwege.

The always entertaining Alex Engwete discusses the brouhaha that erupted in Kinshasa after Cote d'Ivoire's national assembly speaker Guillaume Soro appeared to suggest that Congo's politicians could do worse than emulate the country's musicians.

Stearns asks Guillaume Lacaille, an independent political analyst, why the UN's Starec mission achieved so little. Short answer: the Congolese government can't pour piss out of a boot and the UN dropped the ball.

Digital Congo's Revue de la Presse, for Saturday, 3/16/13:
The TV station RTNC announced on Friday that Kabila had fired Equateur governor Jean-Claude Baende; as of Saturday local newspapers were refusing to carry the story, waiting for further confirmation.
According to a web site run by North Kivu province, FOLC rebels operating in the Beni territory have surrendered.
Senate President Kengo is calling for the DRC to focus on increasing private investment, particularly now that a peace process has been implemented. Le Potentiel reports that Kengo remains alarmed about the security situation in the east.

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