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Archive for Congo

Newsline: Congo police fire tear gas to disperse protest over Rwandan diplomat

Police in Congo’s capital Kinshasa fired tear gas on Friday to disperse around 100 protesters calling for the expulsion of the Rwandan ambassador they accuse of denying a massacre during the 1998-2003 Congo war. Two people were seriously injured, one of whom was in critical condition, after inhaling tear gas and being beaten by police, said Carbone Beni from the campaign group Filimbi, which organised the protest. Kinshasa’s police chief Sylvano Kasongo confirmed some protesters were hurt, but said injuries were not serious. The city’s governor had not authorised the demonstration, he said. The protest was broken up before the group reached the Rwandan embassy. In August, Ambassador Vincent Karega responded to a Twitter post that accused Rwandan troops of killing more than a thousand people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 1998. “Blatant incoherence between image and history… accusation without evidence is called slander,” Karega tweeted and later deleted. Karega told Reuters on Friday his comments had been misinterpreted and he did not deny that a massacre had taken place. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-protest-rwanda/congo-police-fire-tear-gas-to-disperse-protest-over-rwandan-diplomat-idUSKBN25V2M9) He said he was thankful for the level of organisation shown during Friday’s protest.

Newsline: US embassies in Africa speak up on police killing

As Minneapolis burns over the police killing of George Floyd and shock and disappointment in Africa grow, some U.S. embassies on the continent have taken the unusual step of issuing critical statements, saying no one is above the law. The statements came as the head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned the “murder” of Floyd and said Friday the continental body rejects the “continuing discriminatory practices against black citizens of the USA.” Africa has not seen the kind of protests over Floyd’s killing that have erupted across the United States, but many Africans have expressed disgust and dismay, openly wondering when the U.S. will ever get it right. Mindful of America’s image on a continent where China’s influence has grown and where many have felt a distinct lack of interest from the Trump administration in Africa, some U.S. diplomats have tried to control the damage. The ambassador to Congo, Mike Hammer, highlighted a tweet from a local media entrepreneur who addressed him saying, “Dear ambassador, your country is shameful. Proud America, which went through everything from segregation to the election of Barack Obama, still hasn’t conquered the demons of racism. How many black people must be killed by white police officers before authorities react seriously?” The ambassador’s response, in French: “I am profoundly troubled by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Justice Department is conducting a full criminal investigation as a top priority. Security forces around the world should be held accountable. No one is above the law.” (https://www.startribune.com/in-unusual-move-us-embassies-in-africa-speak-up-on-floyd/570889852/) Similar statements were tweeted by the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Uganda, while the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya tweeted a joint statement from the Department of Justice office in Minnesota on the investigation.

Newsline: US ambassador to UN calls Congo government ‘corrupt’

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday said the U.N. is partnering with a “corrupt” government in Congo, and she supports a large cut in the world’s largest peacekeeping mission there. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.N. mission in Congo “is aiding a government that is inflicting predatory behavior against its own people.” Her comments came a day after Congo said the bodies of an American and a Swedish investigator for the U.N. and a Congolese colleague were found Monday in a shallow grave in a region that has seen months of deadly violence between government troops and local militias. Congo says it will investigate.


Newsline: Tokyo police arrest Japanese diplomat for setting fire to embassy in Congo

Japanese diplomat who formerly worked for the Japanese embassy in Congo was arrested by Tokyo police on suspicion of setting fire at the embassy office in June of this year. 30-year-old Shinya Yamada, who worked as the third secretary in the office in Kinshasa is alleged to have caused the fire which partially burned the two floors where the embassy was located. This was a rare case where Japanese authorities personally investigated an incident that occurred in a diplomatic mission in another country. Members of the Tokyo police were sent to Congo at the behest of the Foreign Ministry to look into the situation. Upon their investigation, the police discovered that Yamada embezzled some of the funds at the embassy and then set fire to the fourth floor offices to hide his misdeed. He sprinkled gasoline all over the floor, where the offices of the ambassador and counselor are also located. Records show that he was the last person to leave the embassy on the day of the fire on June 20. The police also found a tank at Yamada’s Congo residence that may have contained the gasoline used in the fire. Fortunately, no one was injured during the fire, although it caused damage to the offices, which were located on two floors of a four-story building in the country’s capital. There were 20 employees at that time, with half of them locally hired staff. The office was relocated temporarily to the ambassador’s residence and then to a condominium unit. Yamada later on went back to Japan where he worked at the Foreign Ministry.


Newsline: U.S. Embassy Says Ambassador Misquoted on Rwanda

The United States Embassy in Kigali has said the media reports suggesting that senior Rwandan officials faced possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged support to DRC’s M23 rebels were inaccurate. The reports, initially published in The Guardian of the UK, were attributed to Ambassador Stephen Rapp, the head of the US Office of Global Criminal Justice. “Ambassador (Stephen) Rapp was not calling for any specific prosecution in this case,” Susan Falatko, the Public Affairs Officer, at the American Embassy in Kigali told The New Times, saying the official was misquoted by the newspaper. In The Guardian interview, Falatko explained, Rapp may have been misunderstood since the context of the interview was Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president who was, in May, sentenced by a UN-backed war crimes court to 50 years in prison for his role in aiding and abetting crimes in the neighbouring Sierra Leone. The Guardian story had suggested that Rwandan leaders, who have been accused of supporting Congo rebels – despite the lack of credible evidence – risk prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, a senior ICC official said the Hague-based court was not investigating any Rwandan leader. The court’s focus is on the arrest of the rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda of the M23 rebel group, Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division at the ICC, told reporters during a visit to Nairobi. Kigali has challenged the report by a UN Panel of Experts on the Congo, which accused senior Rwandan officials of supporting M23 rebels, largely composed of former members of the ex-CNDP rebel movement, who deserted the army in April citing Kinshasa’s failure to honour its commitments under a March 23, 2009 peace deal.


Newsline: China summons Congo’s envoy over blast

Vice Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng on Monday urgently summoned Felix Ngoma, charge d’affaires of the Republic of Congo’s embassy in China, after Chinese nationals were killed and injured in an arsenal blast in the country’s capital, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The blast occurred at 8 am on Sunday, local time, in Brazzaville. Xie called for the Republic of Congo to take all necessary measures to rescue and treat the injured Chinese. The Chinese government attaches great importance to safeguarding its overseas citizens, the vice foreign minister said. Xie said a Chinese working group will soon reach the Republic of Congo. The Republic of Congo also should protect the security of other Chinese organizations, enterprises and personnel in the country, Xie said. China expresses condolence and sympathy to the severe casualties in the Republic of Congo due to the unfortunate incident, Xie said. Ngoma gave his thanks for China’s sympathy and solicitude. The Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Congo has confirmed six Chinese are dead and dozens injured, some of them seriously. About 140 Chinese workers of the Beijing Construction Engineering Group were working at a nearby construction site when the explosion occurred.


Newsline: Russian Embassy in Congo shattered by ammo dump blast

At least 4 people are known dead after several powerful explosions ripped through an army ammunition dump near the Congolese capital Brazzaville. The death toll is likely to rise. The blast shattered window panes in the Russian Embassy compound. The smoke from the explosions could be seen from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Newsline: Congo embassy workers claim asylum in UK

Three senior diplomats have resigned from their posts at the Congolese embassy in London and claimed asylum in the UK. Baby Kazadi Moussonzo, first secretary to the ambassador; Mamie Yaya Efunga, another first secretary; and Kabengele Mamba, second secretary, had between them a total of 14 years service at the London embassy. They resigned earlier this month and have issued a lengthy statement denouncing their government, accusing it of presiding over a “climate of terror”. They claimed the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was guilty of abductions, arrests and assassinations as well as turning the police and Republican Guard into a private militia. Congo’s incumbent president, Joseph Kabila, was re-elected last November but controversy surrounded the results with opposition politicians claiming the ballot was rigged. The three diplomats said in their statement that there had been substantial election fraud and ballot box stuffing. A spokeswoman for the Congolese embassy said it was not commenting on the resignations.