Kamwina Nsapu: the most serious threat for Congo's President Kabila

The finding of the lifeless bodies of the two United Nations experts, the American Michael Sharp and the Swedish Zaida Catalan, disappeared last March 12 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), demonstrating the gravity of the crisis that is destabilizing the central area of African country.

Photo credit afrikarabia.com

The remains of the two UN officials have been recovered from the MONUSCO peacekeepers in a shallow pit dug on the road leading from Bukonde to Tshimbulu in Western Kasai.

Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan were investigating alleged abuses committed by Kamuina Nsapu armed group, the protagonist of a rebellion broke out in August 2016, now expanded into five DRC' s provinces: Kasai, Central Kasai, Eastern Kasai, West Kasai and Lomami.

Not far from the site of the discovery of the two bodies, it was also found that too their Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela, who along with three other compatriots, also disappeared, was part of the staff that accompanied the two experts. According to reports by the Minister of Communications of the former Zaire, Lambert Mende, who confirmed the news of the discovery of the bodies, the woman was decapitated.

A summary execution confirming the ferocity of the rebel group, which bears the name of Kamuina Nsapu, a traditionalist leader, who was killed last August by the police at his home in Tshimbulu. Moreover, last February, the bishop of Luiza, Félicien Mwanama Galumbulula, had reported "exceptional violence and unimaginable atrocities against the population", committed by militiamen Kamuina Nsapu at various locations in Central Kasai.

The militia members were reportedly armed mainly with machetes and spears. Its members wear red headbands or armbands, and like the Mai Mai groups operating in eastern DRC they undergo rituals and carry amulets that are believed to bring invulnerability.

The most striking action carried out by the rebels dates back to last March 24, when close to Kamuesha beheaded with machetes 39 policemen ambushed two convoys that were going along the road leading from the town of Tshikapa in Kanaga, the Central Kasai’scapital.

Six policemen were spared by militiamen Kamuina Nsapu because they knew the local language Tshiluba. This would confirm the ethnic matrix of some of the recent attacks by rebels, which are starting to operate in complete autonomy while being devoid of a well-organized structure.

The ambush, which received the unanimous condemnation of the international community, took place following a declaration by the government, which indicated the surrender of 400 rebels in the area of ​​the Kasai province. Since the beginning of the insurrection, was the attack that resulted in the largest number of casualties among government security forces, known as FARDC.

In an attempt to quell the rebellion that is spreading throughout the province of Kasai, FARDC allegedly committed serious human rights violations. Witness the recent decision of the Congolese Minister for Human Rights Marie-AngeMushobek to open an investigation on a seven-minute video, which shows the military with the Congolese army uniform shooting at a group of men armed with slingshots and clubs.

Last month also, the FARDC have killed over a hundred people in a military operation, which received strong condemnation of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), based in Geneva.

According to the Kinshasaauthorities, since the outbreak of violence 67 police officers and other soldiers were killed in the attacks, while the United Nations estimates indicate that more than 400 people were killed and more than 200 thousand displaced from their homes. Human Rights Watch has received reports of dozens of people killed in recent weeks.

According to local political analysts, the current increase in violence in Congo is still due to the rescheduling of elections by President Joseph Kabila. A decision has triggered a series of violent reactions across the Central African nation, including the rebellion of Kamuina Nsapu in the Kasai region, which for the obstinate President represents the most serious threat.

Joseph Kabila remained in power even after the end of the mandate expired in December and has prevented the holding of the presidential elections, with the complicity of the Electoral Commission, according to which, an unrecoverable delayin the compilation of the voters register and budget problems forced to postpone consultations at 2018.

After days of protests and clashes between opposition and security forces, with dozens of deaths among the protesters, the government and some minority parties have since agreed to go to the polls in 2017. However, the 45 year old Kabila has no intention to relinquish power and it takes time to find a solution, which allows him to remain leader of the country.


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