Congo Army Chief Caught in Gold Deal

The BBC ran a nice piece today on Gen. Gabriel Amisi,( aka Tango Four) – they have hard evidence that he helped Geminaco take over the Omate gold mine in Walikale territory in return for 25% of the monthly production.

Check out the program here and there will be a full 25 minute documentary on the piece airing tonight.

This is emblematic of the kind of opportunism that has characterized the Congolese army’s deployments in recent months – when the UN Group of Experts’ report is released (they are due to present it to the Security Council on Friday), I suspect they will confirm that criminal networks, mostly involving the Congolese army, have gained control over much of the mining in the eastern DRC. Criminal because they use military power to gain preferential access to mines, to smuggle minerals across borders, to tax the trade.

Tango Four, as many must know, is not an unknown figure – he’s a nice example of how intertwined business, politics and the army are in the Congo. He’s a former Mobutu officer from Maniema, recruited into the AFDL in 1996, then joined the RCD in 1998, eventually rising to the head of logistics for the RCD (hence the name Tango Four: the head of logistics was the T4). He became famous for helping command the repression of a mutiny in Kisangani in May 2002. He was later promoted to head of the 8th military region in Goma and then, eventually, to become commander of the land forces in Kinshasa.

Amisi is the owner of Maniema Aviation, as well as of the AS Maniema Union soccer club in Kindu. There have been many reports linking him through Col Etienne Bindu, the chief of staff for the 8th military region, to mining operations in North Kivu, in particular to the operations of Col Samy Matumo, the former commander of the 85th brigade that occupied Bisie mine for several years. So this might not be his first expedition into the land of mineral rackets.

Hopefully this, together with the Group of Experts report, will prompt some action on the part of the Congolese government against their corrupt officers.