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The Peace Process and Ituri

The second Congo war began in1998 and pitted the DRC government, supported by Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, against several rebel movements backed by Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. In 1999 the major parties to the war signed the Lusaka Peace Accords, resulting in the deployment in 2000 of a United Nations force, the U.N. Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) to monitor arrangements for ending the conflict. But the accords were not respected and the DRC was in effect divided among four regimes, each of which depended on foreign troops to survive. After further negotiation, the DRC government reached an accord on future political arrangements with two of the three major rebel movements, the MLC and RCD-ML.1 Known as the Sun City accord, the agreement was signed in April 2002 without the signature of the third important rebel movement, the RCD-Goma.

After further international pressure and shuttle diplomacy, the government of the DRC signed bilateral accords with Rwanda (July 2002) and with Uganda (September 2002), paving the way for withdrawal of their troops. The Rwandan soldiers left in October and Ugandan troops began withdrawing soon after, although some stayed on.2 In early 2003 Uganda briefly increased the number of its soldiers in Ituri, but under significant international pressure it started its final withdrawal of troops in May. In April 2003 RCD-Goma joined the other DRC parties to the conflict in the All Inclusive Agreement on the Transitional Government, meant to settle interim political arrangements.

Despite the agreements and the troop movements, the war in Ituri intensified as local surrogates carried on the battles of the national and international actors.

RCD-ML and Its Links with Ethnic Groups in Ituri
Links between the RCD-ML and ethnic groups form one strand of the complex political fabric in Ituri. The RCD-ML split off from the original RCD in 1999 and moved its base from Kisangani to Bunia. Mbusa Nyamwisi sought to oust the first RCD-ML president, Wamba dia Wamba, from his post. During their year-long struggle in 2000 each appealed to ethnic groups for support, with Wamba relying on the Lendu, and Mbusa Nyemwisi, together with Hema businessman Tibasima Ateenye, drawing strength from the Hema. Ethnically- based militia, incorporated into the RCD-ML forces, supported their chosen candidates, sometimes by force of arms. Mbusa Nyamwisi triumphed and Wamba left the scene. Nyamwisi, himself a Nande, then began fostering ties with the Lendu. In early 2002, he named Jean-Pierre Molondo Lompondo, an outsider from Kasai, as governor of Ituri and allowed him to take control of the RCD-ML forces, thus limiting the power of Thomas Lubanga, a leading Hema member of the movement and nominally his minister of defense. As Nyamwisi depended more on the Lendu, he increasingly alienated his former supporters among the Hema. In April 2002, Nyamwisi's bodyguard was assassinated, a crime widely attributed to Lubanga. Skirmishes followed between those RCD-ML troops, known now as the Congolese Popular Army (Armée Populaire Congolaise, APC), who supported Nyamwisi, and combatants backing Lubanga. Lubanga and his forces, identified with the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), set up their own base at Mandro, some twelve miles outside Bunia and took control of part of Bunia town from the APC. In the process, both sides committed abuses against the civilian population.3

In April 2002, Nyamwisi participated in the Sun City negotiations, establishing links with the DRC government that he could use to strengthen his base at home. During his absence in Sun City, the UPC circulated a document in Bunia denouncing the RCD-ML for its willingness to deal with outsiders. Under the slogan "Ituri for Iturians," they advocated regional autonomy.4

In the following months, Governor Molondo integrated Lendu militia into the RCD-ML forces in accord with the Sun City agreement. The Hema militia charged Molondo with favoring the Lendu and remained apart from the APC. In June, Ugandan authorities detained Lubanga and eight aides while they were in Kampala and then delivered them to Kinshasa where they were held under house arrest. But two months later, Ugandan authorities switched clients and Ugandan troops joined the UPC in ousting Governor Molondo and APC forces from Bunia. Soon after, the UPC set up a government purporting to control Bunia and the rest of Ituri.5

Ugandan Manipulation of Local Politics
Ugandan involvement with the RCD-ML and other political groups in Ituri constituted another strand of the complex political fabric. This link was sometimes echoed by further ties between the RCD-ML and locally- based groups. In other cases, Ugandans cooperated directly with the locally- based groups, creating still another strand of political involvement.

During its four years occupying the north-eastern DRC, the Ugandan army--the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (UPDF)--claimed to be a "peacemaker" in a region torn by ethnic strife. In reality the Ugandan army provoked political confusion and created insecurity in areas under its control. From its initial involvement in a land dispute between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups in 1999 through its joint operation with Lendu and Ngiti militias to dislodge Hema from Bunia in March 2003, the Ugandan Army more often aggravated than calmed ethnic and political hostilities.6

Since 1999 the initial conflict between Hema and Lendu drew in more ethnic groups and spawned increasing numbers of ethnically- based militia. Uganda provided assistance to many of these groups often helping to launch, arm, and train them, but its support was erratic and determined by its own interests.7 A local politician who discussed Ituri political affairs with Ugandan authorities in late 2002 told Human Rights Watch researchers, "It was clear to me that Uganda wanted a pawn in Ituri. When their pawn didn't work, they were happy to change it for another.... If Uganda continues to play games like this there will never be peace in Ituri."8

The list below summarizes some of the ways that Uganda intervened in Ituri politics.9

· There are currently ten armed political groups operating in Ituri (see box below). Since 1998 most of these groups have at one point or another been armed, trained or politically supported by the Ugandan authorities. For some this support has been only of brief duration while for others it has been more long-term.10 Uganda has played a major role in launching or supporting at least five of these groups.11
· On the political level, Ugandans directed important changes in the rebel movements based in Bunia, including removing Wamba dia Wamba as head of the RCD-ML and replacing him by Mbusa Nyamwisi; supporting the creation of two coalitions, the Front for the Liberation of Congo (FLC) which grouped rebel movements at the national level and the Front for Integration and Peace in Ituri (FIPI) which grouped local rebel groups of the Lendu, Alur and dissatisfied Hema; and driving away the RCD-ML and helping install the UPC in Bunia in August 2002. These changes were directed from Kampala and supported by the Ugandan forces in Ituri.
· Uganda intervened in local administration by establishing a new province, Kibali-Ituri, in 1999, by naming its first governor, and by playing a major role in changing four of the six governors since then. Three governors were removed directly by Ugandans with their army providing the force in two of these cases.12 One governor was forced to leave after the Ugandan-backed coalition FLC failed and another was never accepted by the local population and was unable to carry out his duties.13 Between January and May 2001, Col. Edison Muzoora of the Ugandan Army effectively acted as governor, a period during which inter-ethnic violence escalated dramatically.14
· Of the seven Ugandan commanders in charge of the Ugandan forces in Ituri, four were accused by local actors and other independent groups of favoring the Hema over the Lendu.15 The Porter Commission set up by the Ugandan government also acknowledged that it had received evidence that four senior Ugandan Army officers (two of whom were the same accused by local groups) had in one way or another been highly suspected of involvement in the Hema-Lendu conflict.16 Another commander was removed supposedly after he tried to stop the Ugandan exploitation of DRC resources.17
· Ugandan authorities often managed and chaired political negotiations on Ituri. Between 1999 and February 2003, Ituri leaders went to Kampala for political negotiations more than fifteen times and met frequently with either President Museveni or his brother Salim Saleh.

Ugandan meddling in Ituri politics stimulated new political parties and militia groups to form and most did so along ethnic lines, contributing to growing ethnically- based extremism.

On many occasions since their arrival in Ituri in 1998, Ugandan forces failed to protect civilians in areas under their control, most dramatically in Bunia on January 19, 2001 and between August 6 and 10, 2002 when ethnic killings took place within a kilometer of the large Ugandan army camp at the airport. In a few cases, however, Ugandan soldiers did protect civilians. During the early August attacks in Bunia, for example, two Ugandan soldiers reportedly died protecting Hema at Lengabo. In another case at Mabanga on August 28, 2002, Ugandan troops sheltered hundreds of Lendu and others from Hema attack and then the next day escorted them to safety past hostile Hema militias and the bodies of their relatives and friends.

The Ugandan Government Response
On April 15, 2003 Ugandan army Brig. Kale Kayihura, addressing the Ituri Pacification Commission in the name of President Museveni, reportedly deviated from his prepared text to ask the delegates to excuse Ugandan troops for atrocities they committed in Ituri.18 If so, this represented an unusual recognition of wrongdoing by Ugandan military authorities who more frequently claimed to have acted as peacekeepers and perhaps even to have prevented a genocide. As Brigadier Kayihura told journalists, "There are indicators of possible genocide if the UPDF leaves the area without an effective peacekeeping force and administration. The savage killings in Drodro are a reminder to the international community to stop the genocide before it reaches alarming levels."19 President Museveni reportedly denigrated MONUC and its ability to deal with the threat, saying "MONUC is just a tourist group."20

Ugandan authorities claimed in the press that the UN asked them to stay in Ituri, although the UN never explicitly did so. Ugandan spokesmen relied on a September 2002 report by the U.N. secretary general in which he called on the Ugandan army to exercise its security responsibilities "in an impartial manner"21 and on similar U.N. statements reminding Uganda of its responsibility to protect civilians in Ituri. At first neither the secretary general nor the Security Council explicitly refuted these assertions but they reportedly did so through diplomatic channels several months later.22

In late April 2003, Brigadier Kayihura claimed also that Ugandan troops were needed "to secure the Ituri Pacification Commission process" as well as to protect Uganda against the Ugandan dissident group the Peoples Redemption Army (PRA) and armed cattle rustlers.23 When Uganda first sent troops to Ituri, authorities claimed they were there to protect Uganda against the Ugandan rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Ugandan forces missed repeated deadlines for leaving Ituri but finally completed their withdrawal from Bunia on May 6, 2003 and continued withdrawing from other areas in Ituri, claiming to have completed their total withdrawal in early June. Foreign Minister James Wapakhabulo disclaimed Ugandan responsibility for "any ugly situations such as massacres" that might happen after the Ugandan withdrawal.24 There were reports that the DRC government was willing to allow one Ugandan army battalion to stay on the slopes of the Ruwenzori mountains, although exactly where and for how long was unclear. Wapakhabulo also reportedly warned that the Ugandan army withdrawal would not "remove an inherent right to self defence" and that Uganda would be prepared to "carry out small military incursions" into Ituri if necessary.25

When Ugandan troops arrived in Uganda, they were welcomed by Defense Minister Amama Mbabazi who congratulated them and declared their mission in DRC "an overall success". Brigadier Kayihura returning with his troops from Bunia stated, "We return home keeping our heads high because we have done Uganda proud."26

The Role of the DRC Government in Ituri
Until April 2002, the Kinshasa government played little role in Ituri but with the Sun City agreement, it sought more influence in parts of northeastern Congo which were nominally under the control of the RCD-ML, though in fact occupied by the Ugandan army. Focused first on regaining control over resources and strengthening the military forces of its ally the RCD-ML, the DRC government otherwise lacked a coherent strategy for effectively governing the northeast. Unlike Uganda which manipulated several local political links simultaneously, the DRC government worked primarily with the RCD-ML and, through it, with Lendu, Ngiti, and other ethnic groups. These links undermined the credibility of the DRC government with Hema ethnic groups and others allied with them, and made it nearly impossible for the national government to serve as a neutral force in Ituri.

Shortly after the Sun City agreement was signed, the DRC authorities reclaimed control over Ituri's resources by signing an exclusive oil exploration license with the Canadian-British Heritage Oil Company for the area on the DRC side of the Semliki Valley.27 The agreement gained them some cash and set an important precedent for future deals on resource exploitation, but did nothing to increase their authority over the area. The military wing of the RCD-ML, the APC, had no control over most of the area where the oil exploration license had been granted and was weakening elsewhere. Mbusa Nyamwisi himself was unable to return to Bunia after the Sun City agreement was signed and he was forced to move his base to his hometown of Beni.

Military Assistance to the RCD-ML and Other Armed Groups
Faced with the growing power of the UPC, the DRC government sought to strengthen the APC and to integrate it more effectively into the DRC government army, the Forces Armées Congolaises (FAC). Kinshasa provided the APC with uniforms, ammunition, and trainers from FAC. At several camps, such as that at Nyaleke, FAC soldiers trained local forces, including APC, Lendu and Ngiti militias, and Mai Mai, groups of local combatants of various ethnic groups united in their goal of expelling outsiders. According to local sources, approximately two FAC battalions arrived in the Beni area to prop up the APC.

In February 2003 a witness described the training to Human Rights Watch researchers:

      There is an alliance between the APC and the Ngiti. They are trying to find ways to integrate more fighters into the army. There is a training center in Nyaleke where the FAC are training the APC, Mai Mai, Ngiti and Lendu. Some of the fighters are young although there is an agreement that only those who are 18 or older will be trained. In the training camp in Nyaleke, a FAC commander called Colonel Aguru is responsible for the training. Currently there are more than fifty Ngiti and Lendu fighters being trained in the camp. At Mangangu there is a camp just for the Mai Mai as they have different requirements than do the APC soldiers.

      In early February there was an agreement reached between the Ngiti leadership and Colonel Aguru that Lendu and Ngiti fighters would not have to come to Beni for training but that they could be trained locally in their own villages. This has made them very happy.28

Mbusa Nyamwisi admitted that his APC troops received support from the FAC but denied any alliance with the Ngiti and the Lendu. As he said to Human Rights Watch researchers, "The Ngiti and Lendu see us as potential allies, but I put the brakes on this alliance."29 Lendu leaders of the Front for National Integration (FNI) and Ngiti leaders of the Patriotic Force of Resistance in Ituri (FRPI), however, assert that such an alliance does exist.30

The training and support to the APC and others produced results. When the MLC attacked the ANC positions in Mambasa in October, November, and December 2002, Mbusa Nyamwisi's troops together with the Mai Mai used heavy weapons for the first time and stopped the MLC advance near Teturi and Eregenti. Local sources said these new weapons had been delivered by the FAC.31

Ready to act through their local proxies, DRC authorities declined to openly confront Uganda. Instead the DRC government agreed to a gradual withdrawal of Ugandan forces and to a period of joint control over the border area, insisting on the Ugandan responsibility for helping to restore order in the area. "Uganda controlled this part of our territory for the last four years, it is therefore duty bound to repair the damage it has caused," argued Congo's General Commissioner for Peace Kamerhe.32

With no coherent plan for extending its authority in the northeast and little accurate information about local realities, the DRC government engaged in several ad hoc interventions ranging from the symbolic declaration that it would pay the salaries of the public sector employees in RCD-ML areas to the organization in Kinshasa of a promising peace and reconciliation conference to resolve the Ituri crisis. Leading the peace initiative was Ntumba Luaba, the DRC Minister for Human Rights, who traveled to Bunia a number of times to persuade influential actors to join discussions in Kinshasa.33

DRC Minister of Human Rights Taken Hostage
In August 2002 peace discussions took on added urgency with the killings in Bunia (see below). Hoping to win the UPC cooperation that had now become essential to ending the conflict, DRC Minister of Human Rights Luaba went to Bunia on August 26 with Lubanga, still nominally under house arrest. Shortly before the delegation was to leave Bunia, Lubanga persuaded the minister to visit Hema injured in the recent fighting. The minister agreed and learned too late that this was a ruse to take him and others hostage to be held in exchange for Lubanga and for others still in Kinshasa.

A witness recounted:

      Heavily surrounded by the UPC Hema militias, the delegation was taken to the house of local Chief Kahwa Mandro, where upon arrival they were informed by Chief Kahwa that the entire delegation had become his hostages. MONUC was quickly informed of the situation and became the intermediary between Chief Kahwa and the DRC government. The demands were clear: the Kinshasa government was asked to release nine people34 who had been taken by the Ugandans to Kinshasa in exchange for the return of the Minister of Human Rights and his delegation.35

Negotiations continued for three days while the hostages were kept in Mandro. On August 27, 2002, former Ituri governor Adele Lotsove Mugisa arrived in Mandro reportedly declaring that she had been sent by Salim Saleh to free the hostages.36 Two days later the hostages were permitted to fly back to Kinshasa and the UPC members held in Kinshasa were also released.

Chief Kahwa told Human Rights Watch researchers:

      I took the Minister of Human Rights hostage as I wanted to find a way to free Lubanga. I took them all and then we negotiated the release of our friends. I planned it myself and it worked very well. Lubanga and the others were freed. 37

Shortly after the plane departed, the UPC established a government that purported to control Bunia and the rest of Ituri. The participants in the hostage-taking assumed key posts in the new government: Thomas Lubanga became President; Adele Lotsove Mugisa, criticized for having incited ethnic violence during her tenure as first governor of Ituri, became Minister of Finance; Bosco Taganda became Assistant Minister of Defense; Chief Kahwa was named Presidential Advisor; and Rafiki Saba Aimable, Chief of Security Services.

Neither the new UPC government nor Kinshasa investigated the taking of the hostages or pressed charges in connection with the case. The UPC success in getting their members released showed its strength and the corresponding weakness of the Kinshasa government, handicapped by the paucity of its local clients and by its distance from the scene. The incident reportedly intensified the DRC government's determination to counter the UPC and may have contributed to increased support for Lendu and Ngiti groups via the RCD-ML.38

Involvement of RCD-Goma and the Rwandan Government in Ituri
The UPC depended heavily on Ugandan assistance to win control of Bunia in August 2002, as is described below, but it apparently simultaneously began cultivating links with the Rwandan-backed RCD-Goma and with Rwanda itself. Towards the end of the year, the UPC finally shifted from reliance on Ugandan support to reliance on the RCD-Goma. The change was marked by a January 6, 2003 agreement in which the Rwandan-backed movement agreed to provide military and political support to the UPC.39 The agreement, which committed Rwanda's local partner to aiding the Hema group, was the clearest and most public indication until that time of Rwandan involvement in Ituri which, according to local sources, had been growing throughout 2002.40

Rwandan involvement in Ituri, whether directly or through RCD-Goma, increased the complexity of the conflict as well as the risks that it may continue and expand. Rwanda and Uganda, enemies for the last three years, have accused each other of preparing attacks in eastern DRC. The Ugandan government has charged Rwanda with supporting armed groups hostile to it, including the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and with training other dissidents, such as the People's Redemption Army (PRA). The Rwandan government in turn asserted that Uganda was assisting Rwandan rebels and the Interahamwe militia involved in the 1994 genocide, assistance which they viewed as a "direct security threat" to Rwanda.41

In addition to continuing their conflict with Uganda, Rwandan authorities may also seek a role in Ituri to counter the deployment of FAC forces and the possible growth of DRC influence in the area; to win a share of the rich resources of the region; and to support the Hema whom they view as an ethnic group related to the Tutsi and as a threatened minority.42

Hema Chief Kahwa Mandro was apparently the first local actor to solicit Rwandan assistance. He told Human Rights Watch researchers that he asked for Rwandan aid in June 2002 and discussed his request with General James Kabarebe of the Rwandan general staff.43 His group then received arms, ammunition, and training from Rwanda. Chief Kahwa reportedly assisted in bringing other UPC members into contact with Kigali, although he himself eventually fell out with the UPC and resumed his allegiance to Uganda, his original backer.44

Numerous witnesses reported that Rwanda helped the UPC with advice and training and the delivery of ammunition.45 A few even claimed having seen Rwandans fighting alongside UPC forces (see below). Many of these reports come directly or indirectly from RCD-ML or Ugandan sources and must be treated with reserve. Others, however, come from local witnesses not apparently attached to anti-Hema or anti-Rwandan groups.

Mbusa Nyamwisi, for example, alleged that Kigali was delivering arms, ammunition, and even Rwandan soldiers into the airstrips at Irumu, Mongbwalu, and Bunia.46 One of his senior military staff told Human Rights Watch researchers that in the first week of February 2003 an Antonov 26 landed in Irumu with weapons and people from Kigali.47 Ugandan soldiers claimed to have flight data, collected by radar, showing planes such as Antonov 26 leaving Kigali and going to air strips in Ituri.48

MONUC passed on similar information to its Kinshasa headquarters, at least some of it obtained from Ugandan military sources. On September 18, 2002 the MONUC team in Bunia reported to Kinshasa that "on 16 September 2002 at 18:10, a plane from Rwanda airdropped arms, ammunition and uniforms at Mandro. The UPC are now seen with new camouflage uniforms and new weapons." On October 7, 2002 MONUC reported that "Ugandan army Major David Muhoozi states that the RPA49 are in Bunia and are expected to be in Mandro training camp. They are small in number and in civilian clothes." A day later again MONUC forces in Bunia told Kinshasa that "the [Ugandan army] confirms that the RPA soldiers in Bunia are former RPA/Banyamulenge and are instructors at Mandro. Also [Chief] Kahwa (UPC) has visited Rwanda for support."50

A civilian witness unaffiliated with either the RCD-ML or the Ugandans saw Rwandans arrive at an airstrip near Mahagi in northern Ituri in early 2003. He told Human Rights Watch researchers:

      I was at the airstrip with a retired former Ugandan military man who had once trained Rwandans when they were still in Uganda many years ago. The Rwandans recognized the old man and came over to salute him as I was standing there. He asked them what they were doing and they said they were there to train the UPC.51

Another witness in Kigali saw Lubanga and a high level delegation of UPC officials, including Jean Baptist Dhetchuvi, Richard Lonema, Commander Kisembo, and Rafiki Saba Aimable, arrive in the Rwandan capital on December 30, 2002. The witness said:

      After a meeting in Gbadolite where Lubanga was refused a place in the talks with the MLC, RCD-N and RCD-ML, the UPC delegation boarded an Antonov 26 and went straight to Kigali. In Kigali, UPC officials said they met with James Kabarebe and President Kagame. They spent one night in Kigali and then the whole delegation returned to Bunia except for the foreign minister Jean Baptiste Dhetchuvi who stayed behind to organize further details with Kigali and was then going to Goma to write the new agreement. Before they returned [to Bunia] I saw the plane loaded with about five tons of ammunition and weapons.52

UPC Foreign Minister Dhetchuvi, a former biology professor at the National University of Rwanda, apparently negotiated the January 6, 2003 agreement between RCD-Goma and the UPC in Goma just when the Ugandans were organising talks with all the armed groups in Arua. A month later President Onasumba of the RCD-Goma visited Bunia to solidify the new relationship.53

Economic Gain
Ituri is one of the richest areas of Congo with deposits of gold, diamonds, coltan, timber and oil. Foreign governments, their soldiers, and numerous others unofficially attached to them as well as the DRC government itself wanted to profit from the many and valuable resources of this area, including cross border trade and customs revenue. A number of independent reports including those by a United Nations Panel of Experts and by international non-governmental organizations have documented the link between the conflict in the DRC and the exploitation of natural resources. In the case of Mongbwalu documented below, witness testimony showed how quickly the victors in combat moved to exploit local resources-in this case, gold.

Trade statistics show the extent to which Uganda has profited from the riches of the DRC. Gold exports from Uganda more than doubled after their troops crossed into the DRC, although there was no increase in domestic production capacities.54 This upsurge coincided with a heavy deployment of Ugandan troops in mining areas in Ituri such those near Kilo Moto, described as one of the most productive gold mines in Congo. The record of diamond exports is even clearer. No diamond exports were recorded from Uganda in the decade before their troops arrived in the DRC. Then from 1997 to 2000, diamond exports jumped from 2,000 to 11,000 carats. In 2001 an estimated $3.8 million worth of diamonds was exported.55

The final report of UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC, published in October 2002, concludes that an elite network of Ugandan soldiers, officials, and politicians, local rebels, and international businesses plundered the Congo for their own benefit and to finance the war.56 According to the Panel, this network included Hema businessmen like the Savo family in Ituri. Museveni's brother Salim Saleh and former Ugandan army Major General James Kazini were identified as leaders of the network, using the Ugandan army and various rebel militias as their personal enforcement arm for commercial purposes.57

The Panel stated that the Hema-Lendu conflict stems in part from attempts by the Ugandans and powerful Hema businesspeople and politicians to increase their profits from commercial activities.58 The Hema, it said, fill an important niche in the operation of the criminal enterprises by transporting primary products from Ituri across the border to Uganda under the protection of Ugandan troops and bringing back gasoline, cigarettes and arms, all exempt from taxation. Dissatisfied with their relatively limited share of the business, many of them joined the UPC under Lubanga in an attempt to secure greater profits.59

The Porter Commission established by the Ugandan Government on May 23, 2001 to look into the allegations of Ugandan involvement in illegal exploitation of Congolese resources produced its final report in November 2002, although it was only recently made public. The report exonerated the Ugandan government and its army of official involvement in such exploitation.60 The Commission did, however, support the U.N. panel's findings in relation to senior Ugandan army officers who, said the Commission, had "lied to protect themselves." It said also that "officers to very senior levels, and men of the Ugandan army have conducted themselves in the DRC in a manner unbecoming."61 It particularly singled out General Kazini for having "shamed the name of Uganda"62 and it recommended disciplinary action against him. The Commission strongly recommended further investigation of diamond smuggling, stating that there was a link between senior Ugandan army members, known diamond smugglers, and a Ugandan business.63

Rwandan authorities allegedly also hoped to profit from the gold of Ituri. Lubanga's UPC was reportedly ready to help Rwanda get a share of the gold mined in Mongbwalu but was unable to deliver when it lost power in Bunia.64

The discovery of oil in the Semliki Valley, an area straddling the border between Uganda and Ituri, ensures that competition over Ituri will increase. Heritage Oil, to which the DRC government has conceded exploration rights in Ituri, drilled test bores on the Ugandan side of the border. On March 31, 2003, the company announced it had struck oil in Uganda and said the area had the potential of being a new world-class oil basin.65 The Ugandan Director of Heritage Oil planned to start activities on the Congolese side of the border in March 2003 projecting that it would take 5 years and $15 to $20 million in investment to turn a profit.66 In addition to its contract with the DRC government, Heritage Oil maintains close links with Ugandan authorities.67 In 2002 agents of the company started to make contact with local chiefs in Ituri, including several in Burasi as well as Chief Kahwa of Mandro. 68 Chief Kahwa said "I have been contacted by the Canadian Oil people who came to see me. I told them they could only start work in Ituri once I had taken Bunia from the UPC."69

Kahwa's statement with its implication that oil rights could be traded for the backing needed to win Bunia suggests the risks if ambitious local actors begin soliciting and receiving support from yet another group of external actors, powerful international corporations. Local and international observers fear the consequences should one of the world's most capital-intensive extractive industries enter one of the world's most complex conflict areas. As UPC Foreign Minister Dhetchuvi claimed, "in Ituri we are in an oil war."70

1 Initially known as the RCD-Kisangani, the name was changed to RCD-ML after the move to Bunia. It is sometimes referred to as RCD-K-ML to denote its early origins.

2 Under the Luanda Accords, Uganda promised to withdraw its forces immediately from Gbadolite and Beni but arranged to keep soldiers in Bunia until a civilian administration was established there.

3 Human Rights Watch, "Chaos in Eastern Congo: UN Action Needed Now," A Briefing Paper, October 2002.

4 Human Rights Watch interview, Bunia, February 2003.

5 Human Rights Watch, "Chaos in Eastern Congo: UN Action Needed Now."

6 Human Rights Watch, A Short Report, Uganda in Eastern DRC: Fuelling Political and Ethnic Strife, March 2001.

7 Ibid. See also U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), Special on Ituri, December 2002.

8 Human Rights Watch interview, Bunia, February 2003.

9 Human Rights Watch interviews, Bunia, Beni, and Kampala, February 2003; Human Rights Watch, Uganda in Eastern DRC: Fuelling Political and Ethnic Strife, March 2001; and IRIN chronology on Ituri, December 2002.

10 Ibid.

11 RCD-ML, MLC, RCD-N, UPC and the FIPI platform of three ethnic based groups. For support to the RCD-ML, MLC and RCD-N see Human Rights Watch, A Short Report, Uganda in Eastern DRC: Fuelling Political and Ethnic Strife, March 2001. For support to the UPC and FIPI see following chapters in this report.

12 Governors Adele Lotsove Mugisa, Ernest Uringi Padolo and Jean Pierre Molondo Lompondo.

13 Col Mohammed Buli Bangolo was the first, Ruhugwa Baguma the second.

14 During this time there was no official governor and Colonel Muzoora effectively held administrative control.

15 Captain Kyakabale, Colonel Arosha, Col. Edison Muzoora and Col. Freddy Segamwenge.

16 Final Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations into Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo 2001 (May 2001 - November 2002), November 2002, p. 138. The Porter Commission mentions Cap Kyakabale, Colonel Arosha, Cap. Peter Karim and Colonel Angina.

17 Col. Charles Angina.

18 Electronic mail and telephone communication with delegates who attended the conference, April 16, 2003.

19 "A Whole New Genocide is Well Underway in Congo," The New Vision, Kampala, April 17, 2003.

20 "Army Sets Terms for Pulling out of DRC," The Monitor, Kampala, April 11, 2003.

21 U.N. Security Council, "Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," S/2002/1005, September 10, 2002.

22 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kampala, February 2003.

23 "A Genocide Could Erupt After UPDF Quits DRC," the New Vision, Kampala, April 23, 2003.

24 "UPDF to Meet Congo Deadline, Says Wapa," The Monitor, Kampala, April 18, 2003.

25 Ibid.

26 "UPDF Says Congo Mission a Success," The Monitor, April 28, 2003.

27 On 10 June 2002 Heritage Oil announced an agreement with the DRC government to develop oil production in approximately 7.7 million acres of Eastern Congo (Ituri). Dominic Johnson, "Shifting Sands: Oil Exploration in the Rift Valley and the Congo Conflict," Pole Institute Report, March 13, 2003.

28 Human Rights Watch interview, Beni, February 2003.

29 Human Rights Watch interview with Mbusa Nyamwisi, Beni, February 11, 2002.

30 Human Rights Watch interview, Beni, February 2003.

31 Human Rights Watch interview, Beni, February 2003.

32 Reseau Europeen Congo (REC), Bulletin d'Information no. 10 / 2002, October 16, 2002, item 17.

33 Representatives of the government, about 100 delegates of the nine ethnic communities of Ituri, members of MONUC, civil society, and religious confessions were present at the conference, but there were no representatives of the rebel factions and ethnic militias.

34 These included Bagonsa and Bosco Taganda who would later become key individuals within the UPC administration.

35 Human Rights Watch interview, Kampala, February 2003.

36 Ibid.

37 Human Rights Watch interview, Chief Kahwa Mandro, Kampala, February 22, 2003.

38 Human Rights Watch interviews, Beni and Kampala, February 2003.

39 Human Rights Watch interview, Thomas Lubanga, Bunia, February 14, 2003.

40 Human Rights Watch interviews, Beni and Kampala, February 2003.

41 "Congo, Rwanda Sabre Rattling Turns Into PR War," The East African Standard, Nairobi, March 31, 2003.

42 Human Rights Watch interviews with local analysts, Beni, Bunia and Kampala, February 2003.

43 Human Rights Watch interview, Chief Kahwa Mandro, Kampala, February 22, 2003.

44 Human Rights Watch interview, Bunia, February 2003.

45 Human Rights Watch interviews with a range of sources in Beni, Bunia, Kampala, February 2003.

46 Human Rights Watch interview, Mbusa Nyamwisi, Beni, February 11, 2003.

47 Human Rights Watch interview, military commander, Beni, February 2003.

48 Human Rights Watch interview, Ugandan military source, Kampala, February 2003.

49 Then known as the Rwandan Patriot Army (RPA), the Rwandan armed forces are now called the Rwandan Defense Forces, RDF.

50 Internal MONUC correspondence, September and October 2002.

51 Human Rights Watch Interview, Paidha, February 2003.

52 Human Rights Watch interview, February 2003.

53 Human Rights Watch interview, Thomas Lubanga, Bunia, February 14, 2003. Also see local press reports in The Millenaire, February 2003 and U.N. IRIN, February 2003.

54 U.N. Security Council, "Addendum to the report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC," S/2001/1072, November 13, 2001.

55 Ibid.

56 U.N. Security Council, "Final Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC," S/2002/1146, October 16, 2002.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid., paragraph 118.

59 Ibid., paragraph 121.

60 Final Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations into Illegal Exploitation of Natural resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo 2001 (May 2001 - November 2002), Kampala, November 2002, p 199.

61 Ibid., p.202 and 207

62 Ibid., p.203.

63 Ibid., p.205.

64 "UPC Rebels Grab Mongbwalu's Gold," African Mining Intelligence No. 53, January 15, 2003.

65 Heritage Oil Press Release, "Heritage Confirms Uganda Oil Potential and Outlines Further Investment Plans", March 31, 2003.

66 Ibid., Johnson, "Shifting Sands," p. 24.

67 Ibid., p. 24.

68 Human Rights Watch interview, Kampala, February 2003.

69 Human Rights Watch interview, Chief Kahwa Mandro, Kampala, February 22, 2003.

70 Ibid., Johnson, "Shifting Sands," p.19.

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