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29.08.2009 Feature Article

The Elusive Militias in Central Africa

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The recent trip to Africa by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has underscored the

Committment to African Affairs that the Obama Administration has made since taking office in Janurary of this year.

One of the largest controveries to emerge from this trip was the visit to the Democratic Republic

of the Congo. This Country has been plagued by Civil Strife for the last decade. The majority of the problems lie in the Eastern part

of the Country where Various Militia Groups have set up their own rules and the UN Peacekeeping Force there is understaffed. So when

Secretary Clinton announced that the United States would provide $ 37 Million in additional funding for medical care for the victims of

sexual assault it was seen a great move. But there has been some negative feedback about the US as well.

When it was announced that AFRICOM would send a Mission to Kinshasa to determine how the funds could

be properly allocated alarm bells were sounded. Most People are not critical of the US sending a team to do a Medical Assessment. What

has my interest peaked is why is the US sending a PR Person to deal with the Congolese Army? The Bush Administration did pledge to train

FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to respect Human Rights. Some of the alledged perpetrators of the Sexual Assaults are members of the Congolese Army. Other Attacks have been committed by Militia Forces that operate in the area.

Despite the efforts of MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Congo) and FARDC the Militias in the East continue their operations with impunity. The LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) a Ugandan Militia that walked away from signing a Peace deal that would have ended over two decades of Conflict has enlarged its area of operations. Its main base has been in Garamba National Park in the Northeast DRC. In recent days it has been revealed that Ugandan Forces have entered the Central African Republic to assist that Country in dealing with the Problem. Last year Uganda and the DRC were joined by Southern Sudan in the highly controversial and failed Operation Lightning Thunder. Also it should be noted that the LRA has been used by the Sudanese Government as a Proxy Force to maintain its interests in the Volatile South as well. There are now reports that the UN will assist the Ugandan-CAR Operations.

In the Kivu Provinces of the DRC Operation Kimia II continues as well. This Operation appears on the surface to be yielding better results than Operation Lightning Thunder. Earlier this week it was revealed that ten members of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) have sought refuge in Burundi. It is not known whether or not this was an advance party seeking to set up another base of operations or if they were fleeing the offensive but this incident cannot be dismissed out of hand as a random event. There is a motive here that has yet to be revealed.

With this information at hand the question of US Potential Involvement in Central Africa needs to be addressed. The LRA Disarmament Act does call for the Administration to use any and all available options to deal with the LRA. AFRICOM (US African Command) is doing an assessment of the Situation in the DRC to determine what role the US can play in restoring internal order . The US did provide Logistical Support for Operation Lightning Thunder and there is interest in the Mineral Resources in the DRC. So the question may not be how to keep the US out of Central Africa. But when will the US Military Show up?

The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet and comments on US Policy towards Africa. Confused Eagle is at morganrights.tripod.com

Scott A Morgan
Scott A Morgan, © 2009

The author has 88 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: ScottAMorgan

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