By PATRICK ILUNGA
The European Union on Thursday toughened sanctions on perpetrators of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, targeting leaders of various armed groups including the M23
The Council of the European Union on Thursday sanctioned eight new personalities, including five members of different armed groups operating in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri in eastern DRC.
On the list is Willy Ngoma, the military spokesman for the M23, who, according to the EU has “contributed to and planned acts constituting serious violations of human rights in the DRC”.
The representatives of four other armed groups are said to be “responsible for committing serious human rights violations and abuses, as well as fuelling the armed conflict in the DRC. Others have been listed for inciting violence and instrumentalising the conflict by engaging in the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources,” the EU explained in its decision.
Integrated EU approach
In the context of the war in the east of the DRC, the European Union said that its decision “is part of an integrated EU approach to support the DRC authorities’ efforts to establish a lasting peace and stabilise the eastern part of the country”.
A total of 17 individuals are now subject to EU restrictive measures, which have been extended until December 12, 2023 and consist of an EU entry ban and an asset freeze. In addition, EU citizens and companies are prohibited from making funds available to the listed persons.
The Council promises to continue to “closely monitor the situation in the country and may consider further restrictive measures as the situation develops”.
List of sanctioned individuals
- Protogène Ruvugayimikore: Also known as Ruhinda or Zorro Midende, he is the leader of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (FDLR-FOCA). Sanctioned for human rights violations and sustaining armed conflict.
- Willy Ngoma: Military spokesperson of the March 23 Movement/Congolese Revolutionary Army (M23/ARC), a non-governmental armed group operating in the eastern DRC. He is ccused of commanding violence on civilians and fuelling conflict.
- William Yakutumba: Secretary-general and commander of the Coalition Nationale du Peuple pour la Souverainité du Congo (CNPSC), a coalition of the so-called Mai-Mai militias in South Kivu province of the DRC. He is the founder and leader of one of the largest militias of that coalition, the Mai-Mai Yakutumba, which also controls gold mines, fuelling smuggling and attacks on civilians.
- Alain Goetz: Belgian gold trader and owner and former director of African Gold Refinery Ltd in Uganda. Accused of illegal gold trade by controlling armed groups Mai-Mai and Raia Mutomboki and exploiting armed conflict.
- Meddie Nkalubo: ‘Mohamed Ali’ Nkalubo is leader of Ugandan terrorist group Allied Democratic Forces. Sanctioned for human rights violations including killings and abductions in eastern DRC.
- Justin Bitakwira: Also known as ‘Bihona-Hayi’, the former Congolese minister is accused of hate speech against the Banyamulenge community, fuelling armed attacks on them.
- Joseph Nganzo Olikwa Tipi: Also known as ‘Tipi Ziro Ziro’, he bears responsibility for violations by the Congolese Army (FARDC) in eastern DRC. He was commander of the 312th battalion of the 31st Main Defence Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) until January 2022.
- Désiré Londroma Ndjukpa aka Lokana Lokanza: Defence officer of the armed group, Cooperative for Development of the Congo/Union of Revolutionaries for the Defence of the Congolese People (CODECO URDPC). Accused of ethnic cleansing of the Hema community.