Congo Siasa

Former Kabila General Launches Another (Soldierless?) Rebellion

Gen. Faustin Munene, who disappeared several weeks ago from Kinshasa in mysterious circumstances, has resurfaced on diaspora radio stations, saying he will fight to free Congo from oppressors and foreigners.

There had been some speculations about Munene, a retired, former vice-minister of the interior from Bandundu province, since his family went on Radio Okapi on October 7, saying that their houses had been ransacked and they didn’t know where Munene was. On October 12, minister of the interior Lambert Mende said the general had been arrested, only to add two days later that the general had fled. Now, Munene (or someone who sounds an awful lot like him) has appeared on Radio TV Bendele, an internet radio broadcasting from the diaspora, saying that he will fight to liberate the Congo.

The interview is in Lingala and very long. The old commander, who fought first in the Mulelist uprising in the 1960s (rebel commander Pierre Mulele was his uncle), then for the Angolan army, then for Laurent Kabila’s AFDL, says: “I haven’t changed, I am fighting against dictatorship since I was small child…we want to clean the plate so Congolese can eat from a clean plate. You can’t go to election in these conditions. “

Strange, as TV Radio Bendele is owned/closely allied to Honoré Ngbanda, the former national security chief of Mobutu, who was known as “Terminator” for his repressive policies. Munene even praises Ngbanda as a patriot.

There is also a press statement that has appeared on the internet, claiming that Munene is the leader of the Army of Popular Resistance (ARP). Strangely, the press statement says the ARP began its rebellion on January 4th, 2010, when Munene was still to be seen in Kinshasa. They claim the attack on Mbandaka, as well, which at the time was claimed by Congolese Patriots Resistant Fighters (PRC), another group linked to Ngbanda. It is probable that both the Kikwit and Mbandaka attacks were local problems that people like Ngbanda claimed as their own to inflate their importance.

But Ngbanda and Munene have an audience among Congolese, especially those in the diaspora, who are increasingly upset with Joseph Kabila. The death of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya and Armand Tungulu has incensed Kinois in particular as much as the violence in the eastern Congo and has made the blogosphere explode with vitriolic diatribes against Kabila. Munene, incidentally, says that he met with Tungulu in Kinshasa and the latter was upset as his squalid conditions.

Is this important? Probably not militarily – some people have linked the recent unrest in Kikwit, 500km East of Kinshasa, to Munene, but the situation there is relatively calm now and the killing of 3 Congolese soldiers on November 2 may have just been due to banditry. But it is a good indicator of how upset the radical (often western) fringes of Congolese society are with their president – when even the former AFDL commanders start praising Honoré Ngbanda as a true patriot and several thousand people tune it to listen to the program.