It seems that nobody in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo can catch a break in life. Areas in the eastern part of the country are suffering from both an Ebola Outbreak and the Militia Activity that the Government does not have the ability to arrest or appears to give some tacit approval of.
On the 23rd of August an attack was reported in the town of Boga which is in Ituri Province. Over 200 people were taken hostage from an Anglican Cathedral by the attacking force which was reported to be the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) which is a Ugandan Militia group that has recently established ties to the Islamic State and has been active in the region since 1996.
The group has been able to maintain a low profile during the decades of conflict that has affected the region since the Rwandan Genocide and the collapse of the Mobutu Government in the mid-1990s. It was during this time when the focus of the International Community was focused on the activities of groups such as the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) which was the Government in Power during the Genocide, M23 which was a Congolese Militia acting as a proxy for other regional powers and local warlords who took advantage of weak governments in Kinshasa and the notorious LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) led by the ICC indictee Joseph Kony.
That brings us to the incident which occurred on the 23rd of August. During the recent past the ADF has been more brazen in their attacks not only in the Congo but in the view of some analysts have a cell in operation in Mozambique as well. The group has benefited from the lack of Governance in Kinshasa as well.
The strengths of the ADF are its strengths in recruitment and financial networks. A watchdog group reported in December 2018 that the group received funds from Waleed Ahmed Zein. He is a major financier for the Islamic State Although this in fact does not provide a direct link between these groups it does suggest that there is some linkage between these groups to work towards their common goal of establishing the Caliphate.
One thing that seems to slip under the radar is the lack of accountability that the Kabila Government had during its years in power regarding the Security Situation in the Kivu Provinces and in Ituri. President Tshishsekdi did ask for assistance from the Trump Administration in reining in the Militia Activity in the East but the other stakeholders in the conflicts (Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi) also have some responsibility in the unrest in these provinces that has been allowed to fester for decades while these governments use the region to deal with the internal strife that they would like to see hidden from the donor’s eyes.
The brazenness of the attack on the Cathedral will be an attention getter in the DRC. The Catholic Church has a prominent presence in the Country as well.especially during the most recent election cycle. To see a Cathedral come under attack and disputes regarding the actions taken by the Security Forces may place greater scrutiny on the Government as a whole regarding how it will protect it citizens in the strife torn region of the country. The silence so far in response by the Congolese Government is deafening at this juncture.