Burundi's President Évariste Ndayishimiye announced May 11 that he is prepared to negotiate with the country's two main rebel groups, should they reach out to his government. But it's unclear if the rebels will do that, especially given ongoing operations against them. The National Liberation Forces (FNL) and the Resistance Movement for Rule of Law in Burundi (RED-Tabara) both have bases in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The latter, the stronger of the two, has conducted a string of attacks in Burundi since 2015—the year then-president Pierre Nkurunziza won a disputed third term, triggering waves of political violence. Reports suggest significant numbers of Burundian troops have crossed into the DRC in recent months to track down RED-Tabara fighters. The group is one of a number of foreign rebel movements in DRC, where nearly three million people were displaced last year. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians, meanwhile, are still living in refugee camps, afraid to return to a country where the killing and torture of ruling party opponents is rife.
At least 35 people were killed May 10 when armed men raided an artisanal gold mining camp in Ituri province, in the conflicted northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local authorities at the rural commune of Mungwalu in Ituri's Djugu territory blamed the attack on the CODECO rebel militia. A four-month-old baby was among the dead. The militiamen also looted and torched homes at Camp Blanquette, and seized quantities of extracted gold. (AfricaNews) Informal mines in the eastern DRC provide much of the country's output of gold, cobalt and other minerals used in the global electronics industry.
The first round of talks between armed groups and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo concluded April 28 in Nairobi. The Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) wasn't invited, however, while the Ituri-based CODECO was approached but didn't attend. M23 representatives were meanwhile ordered out after their forces resumed clashes with the DRC military. The list of participants was initially unclear and analysts seemed confused by the meeting's strategy as rebels arrived in dribs and drabs.
Thousands have been displaced after new fighting broke out between M23 rebels and the army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province. A UN helicopter was shot down March 29 (for which both sides blamed each other), and the fighting has sparked regional tensions as Kinshasa accused Rwanda of supporting the rebels (a charge Kigali denies). M23 was responsible for the last major rebellion in eastern DRC, seizing large chunks of territory in 2012 and 2013 before a joint UN-government offensive forced its fighters into Uganda and Rwanda. Efforts to demobilize the group stalled and a cluster of combatants resettled in DRC in late 2016. Fresh skirmishes were reported in November, though the strength of the group remains unclear, as are its objectives. M23 is but one of over 100 armed groups active in eastern DRC.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Feb. 9 that Uganda must pay $325 million in reparations to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for its involvement in the Ituri conflict two decades ago. The ruling is based on a 2005 ICJ finding that Uganda violated international law by engaging in military activities in the DRC after occupying the latter's northeastern Ituri province. Uganda was held responsible for the killing and torture of civilians, destruction of entire villages, conscripting child soldiers, inciting ethnic conflict, and plundering of natural resources.
Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are continuing to pursue a joint military offensive launched late last month against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group that is now said to be integrated into the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP). The ironically named ADF has carried out a string of recent attacks in Uganda, and has for years been terrorizing the DRC's North Kivu province. The Ugandan and DRC militaries say they have captured some 35 fighters and "neutralized" four rebel camps in the province. The campaign has included air raids and artillery strikes. (AfricaNews, Al Jazeera)
The Democratic Republic of Congo's Senate has once again extended martial law in two of the country's eastern provinces, despite increasing criticism of the measure, which has done nothing to stem decades of violence. Since May, civilian officials in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have been replaced by police and military figures. Bintou Keita, head of the UN's peacekeeping mission in Congo, has thrown her weight behind the measure, even as local rights groups accuse authorities of using the "state of siege" to curtail civil liberties. The non-civilians newly given positions of power have also received little funding and few clear objectives from Kinshasa, according to a recent parliamentary report. And attacks by armed groups have continued at the same rate as before, with at least 1,000 civilians killed since May, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, a conflict-mapping project. More than one million people have been internally displaced in eastern Congo so far this year.
Thousands marched in Glasgow as the COP26 climate summit entered its second week Nov. 6, demanding ambitious and concrete proposals on limiting global warning to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels—the lowest target under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Police arrested 21 people, including members of the Scientist Rebellion movement who had chained themselves to the King George V Bridge over the River Clyde in Glasgow's city center. A UN Climate Change Update on Nationally Determined Contributions issued two days earlier found that even with the new pledges made thus far at COP26, emissions are still set to rise 13.7% by 2030. To be compliant with the 1.5C goal, they must fall 45% by that year.