• Tebogo Gantsa

UN peacekeeper still missing in DRC conflict


One UN peacekeeper involved in the December attacks by rebel group Allied Defence Force in DRC which killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers and left 43 others wounded remains missing.

There was no mention on efforts to find the missing "blue helmet" in the UN statement on probe into DRC peacekeeper killings by rebel ADF. Image: Creative Commons

The search for the "blue helmet", whose name has not been made public, is likely to be part of the special investigation announced by the UN on recent incidents in the Beni territory of North Kivu Province, DRC. The probe will be led by veteran Russian UN peacekeeper Dmitry Titov who has also served as Africa Director in his service at the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations for the past decade.

In recent events regarding border operations against the ADF, six Uganda People's Defence Forces(UPDF) soldiers deployed to the Uganda - DRC border were injured in an accident on January 2 when a UPDF land cruiser overturned in Ntoroko, along the DRC - Uganda Border. The two countries are involved in joint operations targeting the rebel group.

Operations in response to the attacks on UN peacekeepers have seen the killing of 100 ADF fighters through joint operation airstrikes by UPDF forces. On 27 December UPDF spokesperson, Brigadier Richard Karemire, said eight rebel camps were destroyed in the operation reinforced by Congolese soldiers.

Added to this are the UN's concerns about heavy-handedness by police dealing with internal political instability caused by protests against the country's president in an attempt to block him from staying in power.

The protests that have seen 12 reported as dead due to the allegedly violent crackdown by authorities started on the anniversary of the 31 December 2016 deal brokered by the Catholic church in which President Joseph Kabila was to step down after new elections before the end of last year. The elections have since been postponed for December this year.

UN Secretary General António Guterres urged all Congolese political actors to remain fully committed to the agreement which the international body sees as the only viable path available for the country towards a peaceful solution to the political turmoil.

"The Secretary-General calls on the Government and national security forces to exercise restraint and to uphold the rights of the Congolese people to the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly," said Guterres' spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

President Joseph Kabila has ruled DRC since the death of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, in 2001. Among the opposition there are fears that he intends to change the constitution to allow him to rule beyond the agreed time-frame. The recent postponement of the presidential poll has sparked new concerns about the leader following the example of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni who seeks to extend his 31 years at the helm through a constitutional amendment.

According to a report by the Congo Research Group the Kabila family has amassed wealth during president Kabila's reign. The report links the family to more than 80 companies which include 450 miles of diamond concessions along the Angolan border.

#DRC #MONUSCO #UNPeacekeeping #GreatLakesRegion

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