Off to the frontline

soldier clutching a stereo

This guy got his marching orders today and is setting off to join his unit in an operational zone near Rumangabo in North Kivu, eastern Congo. Transport is not provided, so he’ll probably flag down vehicles along the way. He won’t have to pay… Interesting that he’s taking the stereo too.

The army is officially observing a ceasefire, but various armed groups are active and clashing with each other: in the past week the FDLR (Rwandan Hutu militia embedded in Congo since 94) have had run ins with the CNDP (led by a dissident Tutsi general), PARECO (a coalition of so-called self-defence groups) and Mayi Mayi (localised, opportunist militia groups identifiable by the foliage and lucky charms they wear).

Some Mayi Mayi groups have been recruiting in North Kivu just to swell their numbers in time for MONUC inspections following January’s ceasefire agreement. The more troops the commanders can claim to control, the better their bargaining power in the hunt for cushy army posts.