DRC regime ruler Felix Tshisekedi has been under international pressure to conduct major reforms in the army whose high ranking officers have been accused of gross human rights violations. In July 2020, Tshisekedi, carried out a large but cautious reshuffle which was aimed at hoodwinking the international community and lessen the pressure. During that reshuffle, only the highly controversial General John Numbi was sidelined, while many other senior officers under US sanctions were maintained in senior positions. Tshisekedi has since maintained the status-quo, ignoring calls to make a major overhaul of the armed forces.
Rights groups have accused the Congolese army-FARDC of committing gross human rights violations against civilians, including unlawful killings, rape, looting and destruction of homes and collaboration with armed groups like the blacklisted genocidal, terrorist outfit-FDLR who have been terrorizing Congolese civilians ever since they fled Rwanda after committing genocide against Tutsi in 1994.
A report by the Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance In various reports found that “no meaningful institution protecting human rights could surpass the threat posed by DRC’s state security forces to its own citizens.” It observed that Congolese authorities had continuously neglected reform of the security institutions, leading to poor armed forces control and management, low troop morale, and high incidence of political interference and systemic corruption.
Tshisekedi’s recent mini reshuffle of the army has largely ignored recommendations by the international community, and several reports drawn by rights groups and global security sector watchdogs. Other than conduct meaningful overhaul of the armed forces to rid it of corruption, indiscipline, lawlessness, Tshisekedi has instead promoted loyalists, many of whom are under international sanctions for human rights violations.
This worrying development comes at a time when the international community and the region are expecting cooperation and commitment from the Congolese political and military authorities. That is what is expected if implementation of the Luanda Peace Roadmap and the Nairobi Peace process is to succeed. All indications are that the peace initiatives could end as a complete waste of time and resources, because of Tshisekedi.