Heeeere’s Johnnie

Some articles in the news:

  • US’ top diplomat on Africa, Johnnie Carson, visited Kinshasa this week. Let’s see…what could be on the top of his agenda – dealing with security sector reform? The high-stake upcoming elections? Respecting the rule of law? Not quite. According to one story (OK, it’s a business magazine), he urged Kabila “to improve the business climate.” He also spoke with Kabila briefly about the huge Tenke mining concession that belongs to Freeport McMoran, a US mining company that has been in a dispute with the Congolese government over the contract. The Congolese press also mentioned his visit to meet with the minister of finance, as well as a trip to Kisangani to see how the US marines were progressing with the training of one Congolese army battalion there. He also announced the signing of a $150 million HIV/AIDS prevention program with the Congolese government. I say it again: one battalion, an HIV/AIDS project and improving the business climate is a bit underwhelming.
  • Africa Confidential has a few stories (subscription only) about the race for oil concessions. Hydrocarbons minister Celestin Mbuyu is apparently in Europe, trying to get investors to invest in the many concessions in the east, center and west of the country. They expect Kabila to try to sign deals to get the hefty singing bonuses to fund his election next year.
  • The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Oxfam have published a report on sexual violence in the Kivus. While I have some questions about their methodology (the study is based on cases reported to one hospital in Bukavu), there main conclusion appears fairly solid: that many more cases of rapes committed by civilians are being reported. They conclude that rape has become accepted in society, which is worrisome as a long-term trend.