Africa
DRC

Podcast: a cannabis coup in the Congo?

The attempted coup d’etat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may or may not have been assisted by the CIA, but one of the Americans arrested in the affair is named as a “cannabis entrepreneur“—pointing to the possibility of legal cannabis playing the same destructive role in Central Africa that bananas have played in Central America. Yet while corporate power sees a lucrative new cash crop, lives (and especially Black lives) are still being ruined by cannabis prohibition in the United States. In Episode 228 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg argues that the old anarchist slogan “Neither your war nor your peace” can be updated as “Neither your prohibition nor your legalization!” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: CIA)

Africa
Goma

DRC: Goma swells with displaced as M23 advance

Renewed fighting between the M23 armed group and pro-government forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has pushed thousands more people into Goma, the largest city in the east and a humanitarian aid hub that is now encircled by the Rwanda-backed rebels. Goma’s previous population was around 1.5 million, but an additional 700,000 people have arrived during the past two years of conflict, including more than 200,000 that have come in recent weeks as the M23 expands its control over an unprecedented amount of territory. The city is buckling under a huge strain, with overwhelmed displacement camps, food prices soaring, and fear of an M23 takeover looming large. (Photo: Arlette Bashizi/TNH)

Africa
Africa mining

Appeals court dismisses child labor case against Big Tech

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a child labor case against technology companies and refused to hold them accountable for complicity in the use of children in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Former cobalt miners and their representatives filed a lawsuit against Alphabet (Google), Apple, Dell Technologies, Tesla and Microsoft under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). The TVPRA penalizes anyone who “knowingly benefits financially from participating in a venture that engaged in trafficking crimes.” They claimed that the companies were involved in a “venture” with their suppliers that engaged in forced labor of children to obtain the metal. The court rejected these claims and dismissed the lawsuit, upholding a lower court’s decision. (Photo via Africa Up Close)

Africa
MONUSCO

UN mission to DRC begins withdrawal

The UN has transferred control of its first base of operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Congolese government. The move is a part of the UN’s plan to end its current peacekeeping operations within the DRC by the end of the year. The UN made the decision to withdraw at the request of the DRC government in December, despite ongoing instability in the country. Last year,  conflicts in the eastern DRC internally displaced more than 6.1 million people. (Photo: MONUSCO via Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
cabo delgado

Conflict lingers in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

Mozambique’s military said last year that more than 90% of northern Cabo Delgado province had been secured from ISIS-affiliated insurgents known locally as al-Shabab—yet ongoing attacks indicate that the conflict is far from over. After seizing a strategic village last month, jihadists killed more than 20 soldiers in a battle this month. Cases of beheadings, kidnappings, and ambushes are still being reported by conflict monitors, even as a regional military intervention force is set to end its three-year mission. (Map via Moscow Times)

Africa
DRC

DRC: M23 advancing on Goma —again

The M23 insurgency in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is intensifying once again. Some 150,000 people have been displaced over the past days, adding to the 1.5 million already uprooted by the fighting, which began in late 2021. The latest clashes are taking place close to Goma, a city of 2 million people and a hub for humanitarian aid operations in the east. The M23 says it is not planning on seizing the city (as it last did in 2012), but its forces have fired rockets into the city. Soldiers from a recently deployed Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention force have entered the battlefield on the side of the Congolese army, which is also supported by local militia. (Map: CIA)

Africa
wagner group

‘Blood gold,’ diamonds behind Russian war effort

Gold-mining operations in Africa under the control of the paramilitary Wagner Group are funneling money to the Kremlin for the Russian war effort in Ukraine, according to a new report by watchdog organizations. “The Blood Gold Report,” prepared by the Consumer Choice Center and Democracy 21, finds that Wagner has laundered some $2.5 billion in proceeds from its African operations since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, helping Moscow to ride out international sanctions. In the Central African Republic, Wagner is said to have exclusive operational control over the country’s largest gold mine at Ndassima in return for its services in propping up the regime. The European Union meanwhile announced  sanctions on Russia’s state-owned diamond giant Alrosa and its CEO, citing their “long-standing partnership with the Russian Armed Forces.” (Photo of CAR army troops wearing the Wagner Group insignia via Corbeau News Centrafrique)

Africa
DRC

DR Congo expels peacekeepers

The Congolese government has said a regional peacekeeping mission will have to leave the country by December. The force was deployed by the East African Community (EAC) bloc last year amid an insurgency by the M23 rebel group, which is backed by Rwanda. Kinshasa wanted the force to militarily engage the M23, but that proved tricky given that Rwanda is an EAC member state. Fighting between the M23 and pro-government militias has intensified, rupturing a shaky ceasefire. More than 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the renewed fighting. (Photo: MONUSCO via Defense Post)

Africa
Gabon

Gabon coup: another blow to Françafrique

A group of soldiers in Gabon seized control of the country and canceled the results of its presidential election—just after incumbent President Ali Bongo, heir to a corrupt dynasty closely aligned with France, was declared the winner amid claims of electoral fraud. In scenes reminiscent of those in Niger after the recent coup there, crowds have poured into the streets of Gabon’s capital Libreville, expressing their support for the new junta—and animosity for both the ousted Bongo dynasty and France. The coup appears to mean a further reduction for the French influence sphere in Africa, known as Françafrique. Over the past three years, coups have ousted French-aligned regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea as well as Niger. Russia appears eager to step into the erstwhile role of France in providing military assistance to these countries. The day after the Gabon putsch, a Russian delegation met with Burkina Faso’s interim regime to discuss stepped-up security cooperation. (Map: PCL)

Africa
Kivu

Anti-UN protesters massacred in DR Congo

At least 43 people were killed as government troops fired on protesters in Goma, capital of conflicted North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The protest against the the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) was organized by a religious sect, the Natural Judaic & Messianic Faith Towards the Nations, also known as Wazalendo. MONUSCO “peacekeepers” have faced repeated protests from local residents over their failure to protect civilians amid ongoing inter-factional fighting. The UN is demanding an investigation into the Goma incident, which Human Rights Watch called an “apparent massacre.” (Photo: Sylvain Liechti via UN News)

Africa
Ambazonia

Fulani pitted against rebels in Cameroon conflict

Amnesty International urged Cameroon’s authorities to investigate human rights violations committed in the country’s conflicted Anglophone regions, the North-West and South-West. According to a new report, armed separatists and the military alike are responsible for killings, torture, rape and destruction of property. In the North-West in particular, long-standing conflicts between Mbororo Fulani herders and sedentary farmers have been fuelling armed violence. As the situation has deteriorated over the past years, militias, mainly composed of Mbororo Fulani and supported or tolerated by the authorities, have committed atrocities against civil populations. The official security forces have responded to this situation with further rights violations. (Photo: Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA via Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
ICC

DRC files ICC complaint against Rwanda

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Minister of Justice Rose Mutombo filed an International Criminal Court (ICC) complaint against Rwanda over its alleged involvement in the theft of natural resources in the DRC. The minister charged that the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) have been collaborating with the M23 rebel group, which has taken control of areas in Northern Kivu province near the DRC’s border with Rwanda. The complaint accuses the “RDF-M23 coalition” of “systematic and large-scale plundering of…natural resources” in the rebels’ zone of control. There has been an open ICC investigation into eastern DRC since 2004. (Photo: OSeveno/WikiMedia)