Republican Guard (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

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Republican Guard
Presidential Standard of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg
Presidential Standard of the DRC
Country  Democratic Republic of the Congo
Allegiance Presidential Seal of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Branch Independent
Type Republican guard
Role Security of the president
Size 10,000—15,000
Headquarters Kinshasa
Commanders
Commander-in-chief President Joseph Kabila
Chief of staff Brigadier General Dieudonne Banze Lubundji

The Republican Guard (French: Garde Républicaine) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as the Special Presidential Security Group (GSSP), is maintained by President Joseph Kabila. Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) military officials state that the Garde Républicaine is not the responsibility of FARDC, but the Head of State.[1] Apart from Article 140 of the Law on the Army and Defence, no legal stipulation on the DRC's Armed Forces makes provision for the GR as a distinct unit within the national army. In February 2005, President Joseph Kabila passed a decree which appointed the GR's commanding officer and 'repealed any previous provisions contrary' to that decree. The GR is more than 10,000 strong (the ICG said 10,000–15,000 in January 2007), and consists of three brigades, the 10th, at Kinshasa, the 15th, and the 16th, at Lubumbashi.[2] It has better working conditions and is paid regularly, but still commits rapes and robberies nearby their bases.

History[edit]

The Guard appears to be a functional successor to Mobutu's Special Presidential Division.

During the DRC presidential elections in 2011, the UN reported that Republican Guards, accompanied by the Congolese national police and intelligence agency, shot at protestors, killing 33 and wounding another 83. Another 265 were arrested, many reported that they were tortured. The UN stated it will work with the country's judiciary to investigate the incident and try those who were responsible.[3] It was reported that Republican Guards opened fire at crowds of opposition members, who rallied near an airport where their leader was expected to be arriving. In the Katanga Province, it was reported that an attack on a polling station in Lubumbashi left several people dead who were caught in a fire fight between the assailants and Republican Guards.[4] Also around that time, 30 people were arrested by the GR as around 60 tried to break into President Kabila's residence in Kinshasa. It was reported that some had military training, but the idea that they were angry Republican Guards was denied by the country's information minister. The GR fought them off successfully, though the fighting also spread to a nearby army base. Kabila called it a "coup attempt".[5]

On March 23 and 24, 2013, Guard troops fought off a rogue Mai Mai militia attack in the Katanga Province. The group, Mai Mai Kata Katanga, has been trying to establish the province as and independent state.[6] The guardsmen in the area have been known to commit various crimes against the locals, and even some United Nations workers.[7]

Organization[edit]

Brigadier General Dieudonne Banze Lubundji is commander of the Republican Guard. He was appointed in 2007, and from 2003 - 2006 was FARDC deputy chief of staff for operations.[8] The previous commander, Jean-Claude Kifwa, became commander of the 9th Military Region (Province Orientale).

In an effort to extend his personal control across the country, Joseph Kabila has deployed the GR at key airports, ostensibly in preparation for an impending presidential visit.[9] At the end of 2005, there were Guards deployed in Mbandaka, Kindu, Lubumbashi, Bukavu, Kolwezi, staying many months after the President had left. They are still deployed at Kisangani's Bangoka airport, where they appear to answer to no local commander and have caused trouble with MONUC troops there.[1]

The GR is also supposed to undergo the integration process, but as of January 2007, only one battalion had been announced as been integrated. Formed at a brassage centre in the Kinshasa suburb of Kibomango, the battalion included 800 men, half from the former GSSP and half from the MLC and RCD Goma.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Amnesty International, DRC Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and the Reform of the Army, Section VII A, 25 January 2007, AI Index: AFR 62/001/2007
  2. ^ 15th Brigade identified via EUSEC DR Congo Youtube video. See also reference to 16th Brigade at Lubumbashi at http://www.rsssf.com/tablesz/zaire05.html
  3. ^ Violence during the elections UN Human Rights report
  4. ^ DR Congo: Rein in Security Forces UN Human Rights report
  5. ^ 30 arrested after Congo coup attempt
  6. ^ [1] African News and Analysis, 24 March 2014
  7. ^ [2] Congo political blog
  8. ^ Alternately reported as 'Dieudonne M'Banze Lubundji.' http://www.afdevinfo.com/htmlreports/peo/peo_48039.html, accessed June 2010
  9. ^ ICG, SSR in the Congo, Africa Report No. 104, 13 February 2006
  10. ^ 'Sortie officielle du premier bataillon integre de la Garde Republicaine des FARDC', Xinhua News Agency, 15 September 2006, cited in Amnesty International DRC Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and the Reform of the Army, Section VII A, 25 January 2007, AI Index: AFR 62/001/2007

Sources[edit]