"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


congo watch

An update on the gunfight in Kinshasa via Fred at Extra!Extra!:

"Bemba seems to have fared better than I predicted at 12.30. His soldiers reportedly took control of a good stretch of Gombe, from the port all the way to the Grand Hotel (a popular accommodation for visiting big-wigs), from which they have now been pushed back. The key to their success may be the mutiny of the 7th Brigade, which was in control of a number of strategic positions in the area around Bemba’s house. If true, it’s quite an amazing setback for the government."

Um, yeah, so I've been to the Grand Hotel. My good friends live just around the corner. If the 7th Brigade really did mutiny (and it wouldn't be surprising, given that most Kinois supported Bemba over the winner of the presidential election, Kabila), this is a mess. (And, I might add, yet another chapter in what will become a textbook example of how not to rebuild your national army after a civil war.) The government claims this was an attempt by Bemba's men to take over the government.

MONUC's news about the possible ceasefire would be funny if it weren't so dangerous: basically, both sides have agreed to a ceasefire, they just can't get their troops to stop shooting. The main trick to managing this crisis is to to confine it to Gombe and to be sure to get a ceasefire before popular uprisings start. If people take to the streets, it could be a real mess. Right now, things are calm in the cite. This is good. But they need to settle things quickly.




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