Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Since the start of the first Security Sector Reform (SSR) initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by Belgium in December 2003 different initiatives were launched, both bi-lateral and multi-lateral. The result, 6 years down the line, is disappointing. Various reasons could be given for this slow progress, including the ongoing violence in Eastern DRC, the non-completion of the Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration process, the lack of political will on the part of the Congolese government and competition between donor countries.

SSR is a key priority for the DRC and the lack of a broader national debate on SSR policy and programming priorities continues to compromise progress on this issue. The local leadership is crucial in SSR and only the Congolese government can ensure that the process is completed. The will amongst the political and military establishment to reform the security system is largely lacking in the DRC. This is due at least in part to the way in which impunity was entrenched in the political and military classes and that is still ongoing, especially in the Eastern DRC. As a result, attempts to create a national Republican army with clear lines of command and control, as well as democratic oversight, will challenge the power bases and income-generating sources of influential people.

A number of international partners, including Angola, South Africa, Belgium, France and the United States, are engaged in bilateral security sector reform initiatives, particularly in support of training and capacity-building for the Congolese army, the Forces Armées de la Republic Democratic du Congo (FARDC). This initiative is coordinated within the so-called “contact group”. This group has however lost much of its impact and most initiatives are again bi-lateral and donor-driven. The European Union Mission of Assistance for Security Sector Reform has meanwhile conducted a census of FARDC and established secure payment procedures for 16 battalions. However, there continues to be limited coordination among international partners on SSR. The UN mission in the DRC, MONUC, is again seeking to expand its working group on SSR to include bilateral partners in addition to the European Union Mission of Assistance for Security Sector Reform and the European Union Police Mission in an effort to enhance information-sharing and move towards more strategic coordination on this critical issue.

The lack of an overall vision and doctrine is a serious challenge to consistent and coherent SSR, particularly of the army. In 2007, the Congolese government convened the Security Sector Roundtable, bringing together Congolese and international stakeholders on SSR. Originally only army and police reform were tabled, but justice system reform was added in February 2008. On 25 February 2008 the long awaited round table on Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which aims at a reform of the FARDC and the National Congolese Police (PNC), was held in Kinshasa after being postponed several times. The round table gathered some 200 participants, including international and national experts. The meeting was organized around four committees: on armed forces, justice, police and crosscutting issues. The round table provided an important opportunity for the Government of the DRC to present its approach to security sector reform to international partners. The round table focused on the government’s presentation of a new master plan for military reform and a road map based on four pillars of dissuasion, production, reconstruction and excellence. The master plan makes provision for three overlapping phases spanning 12 years. The short-term phase, from 2008 to 2010, is based on the following:

  • The training and deployment of 12 battalions of a rapid reaction force drawn from elements yet to undergo brassage, as well as from the 18 existing integrated brigades

  • The establishment of the legal framework necessary for army reform; and

  • The completion of the transitional disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and army integration programmes.

The international community was very optimistic about the plan and South Africa, with the support of The Netherlands, immediately supported the training of one of the Rapid Reaction Forces. After the training the Rapid Reaction Force was split up into smaller groups to support the Congolese army fighting in Eastern DRC against General Laurent Nkunda. The conflict that started in October 2008 has brought the implementation of the “master plan” to a standstill. MONUC and the international community were surprised when the Congolese government earlier this year announced an updated master plan.

MONUC is pursuing a three-pronged approach to implement its mandate in support of SSR. This approach calls for political engagement on SSR at the highest levels, and technical and capacity-building assistance as well as operational support, particularly in the areas of police and military training, with the aim of supporting the development of a comprehensive and sustainable national strategy on SSR. This is nothing new and again highlights the issue of coordination as key to a successful SSR process. On the strategic level, it is important to compile “white papers’ for the three sub-sectors, defence, police and justice. The completion of the DDR process, the MONUC three- pronged approach and consensus on coordination between the external role players and how to move forward with SSR will be key in the next few months on the successful restart of the SSR process in the DRC.

By Henri Boshoff, Head, Peace Missions Programme, ISS Tshwane (Pretoria)

Source: ISS

Monday, July 27, 2009

Guinea: Troops crawl after Guinea attack

Troops from Guinea's elite presidential guard have been shown on national TV begging on their knees for forgiveness after roughing up a general.

Gen Mamadou Bah Toto Camara was assaulted in a row over a donation of equipment for the police, which the presidential guards wanted to seize.

He is Guinea's most senior army officer but number two in the military junta which seized power last year.

Coup leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara also apologised for the incident.

Eyewitnesses say the buttons showing Gen Toto's rank were removed, his mobile phones taken and his money stolen by members of the presidential guard, as he went to see Capt Camara at the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp earlier this week.

He was reportedly going to discuss the presidential guard's seizure of a container-load of walkie-talkies, boots and uniforms donated by the Japanese government to the police.

But Capt Camara is said to have reacted angrily to news of the molestation of his number two and ordered the parade on national TV.

"We are proud of our history as an army and as a consequence we have no right to try to tarnish the image of a man who helped make it what we are today. We are his brothers and sons," Capt Camara said.

He also noted that Gen Toto was the only senior military officer to join the coup.


A teary-eyed Gen Toto accepted the apology:

"I am sure this is the first such incident and hope it will never happen again.

"Mr president, I submit myself to you and your sense of discipline. And in your name, I forgive these youngsters".

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in the capital, Conakry, says Gen Toto has been marginalised in the junta since warning Capt Camara against making enemies by parading alleged drugs traffickers on TV.

Several top officials, including the son of former President Lansana Conte, have been arrested and accused of drugs trafficking since the coup.

Guinea, along with neighbouring countries, has become a major transit point for smuggling cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

Capt Camara has promised to hold elections this year and says none of the junta members will stand in them.

Source: BBC News/24 July

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Africa: Military munitions storage increasingly unstable

The growing number of accidental explosions in military arms and ammunition storage facilities across Africa has highlighted the need for minimum standards in stockpile management in the continent, says a South Africa-based think-tank.

"These ammunition stockpiles pose a significant threat and have enduring consequences in vulnerable and fragile societies, and as such need to be adequately managed and/or disposed of by making use of the correct mechanisms and best practice guidelines," the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) noted in the latest of a series of reports on munitions storage.

"Arms and ammunition stockpiles are becoming increasingly unstable due to age and, in many cases, unintentional mismanagement," Ben Coetzee, Senior Researcher at the ISS Arms Management Programme, told IRIN.

"Since 2007 several explosions occurred in Mozambique and at least one in Tanzania, resulting in hundreds of injuries and many deaths. Seen in this light, there is an urgent need to re-evaluate the current principles of ammunition stockpile management."

In the past decade there have also been accidental explosions in military storage facilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Guinea, Nigeria, Angola and Sierra Leone.

Source: IRIN

Monday, July 13, 2009

Guinée: L'armée en état d'alerte

On l'a appris samedi 11 juillet dans la soirée, l'armée guinéenne est en état d'alerte aux frontières. Une décision prise par le CNDD, le Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, autrement dit, la junte au pouvoir, et justifiée par la présence aux frontières avec le Sénégal, la Guinée-Bissau et le Liberia, de mercenaires et d'hommes armés qui s'apprêteraient à attaquer le pays. En revanche, l'opposition et des membres de la société civile ne croient pas à ces informations.

A en croire la junte guinéenne, des hommes armés financés par les cartels de la drogue veulent déstabiliser le pays. Selon les militaires au pouvoir, ces cartels ne digèrent pas la lutte contre le trafic de drogue menée par le capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara.

L'armée est donc en état d'alerte et la Guinée appelle ses voisins bissau-guinéen et libérien à redoubler de vigilance. Cette annonce, a laissé sceptique bon nombre de Guinéens. Ils savent par expérience que la menace extérieure est régulièrement brandie par les pouvoirs en place soit pour effrayer le peuple soit pour justifier des mesures impopulaires.

Dissensions au sein de l’armée

Aujourd'hui à Conakry, certains responsables politiques soupçonnent Moussa Dadis Camara de vouloir à tout prix justifier son maintien au pouvoir au lieu d'organiser des élections. Il est aussi possible que le président autoproclamé cherche à occuper ses troupes.

Alors que les dissensions au sein de l'armée persistent, le redéploiement d'unités aux frontières permettrait d'écarter de la capitale quelques éléments indisciplinés. Quoi qu'il en soit, pour l'instant, l'état d'alerte ne remet pas en cause la liberté de circulation des citoyens guinéens.

Source: RFI