DRC: Repression Against Catholic Church Takes a Turn After General John Numbi Secretly Meets Rwandan General James Kabarebe

Cardinal Monsengwo and Bishops: The targeted Catholic Church brokered now the defunct accord of December 31, 2016

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In recent articles, AfroAmerica Network reported that the meetings between Rwandan General Paul Kagame and Congolese opposition leaders Moise Katumbi and Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, in Davos, Switzerland and Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia focused on how to outplay the Catholic church in the power struggle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since then, many developments happened, with some incidents targeted the Church. On Saturday, Feb 3, 2018, undercover security agents and plainclothes military intelligence officers, riding in a Toyota Land Cruiser, abducted the catholic Bishop of Saint Robert parish, in the locality of Nsele, Kinshasa. The bishop, Father Alain Bisema, was detained, for hours, in an undisclosed location and released in the evening. According to sources close to the Catholic Church, Father Alain Bisema was mostly interrogated about properties belonging to the Church.

However, many wonder why cases about property disputes would be handled my military intelligence services and state security officers, especially that some interrogation sessions included targeted questions about the church latest activism against Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down. They also point to the fact that Department of Military Intelligence Head, General Delphin Kahimbi was seen in the halls, during the interrogations.

General Delphin Kahimbi is the one who led the raid and arrests targeting Congolese Tutsis and Banyamulenge who were celebrating New Year 2018 at the residence of General Charles Bisengimana. General Charles BBisengimana was a close ally of Joseph Kabila, until he was abruptly dropped, in July 2017, as the Commander of the National Police, suspected of being critical of Joseph Kabila, for not stepping down when his term expired in December 2016.

Those interrogated by General Delphin Kahimbi during the New Year 2018 raid allegedly included DRC Senator Moise Nyarugabo, FARDC Inspector General General Malick Kijege, Military Prosecutor General Jean Bivegete ,

The abduction and interrogation of Father Alain Bisema happened, following another development in Eastern DRC. In fact, early Saturday morning, sources in Goma had just informed AfroAmerica Network that, in early that morning, General John Numbi, one of Joseph Kabila's closest aides and hitmen, had crossed the Rwandan-DRC border and was back in Goma, after an overnight secret meeting, in the Rwandan border town of Gisenyi, with Rwandan General James Kabarebe.

The objective of the meeting was not clear, given that Rwandan General James Kabarebe had also, over the week, held meetings with former Congolese M23 rebel leaders and former FARDC commanders. On 28 September 2016, General John Numbi, the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was listed by United States sanctions for his use of "violent intimidation" to secure victories for his favored candidates in 2016 provincial elections.

The combination of the events raise multiple questions:

  • Why General Paul Kagame met opposition leaders Moise Katumbi and Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, while being an ally of Joseph Kabila?
  • Why James Kabarebe met Congolese rebels of M23 and ex-FARDC commanders and then secretly met General John Numbi, the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
  • What are the connections among the meetings between Congolese opposition leaders and General Paul Kagame, the meetings between General James Kabarebe and General John Numbi,
    the meetings between General James Kabarebe and M3 Rebels commanders, and the increased repression against the Catholic Church?
  • After Father Alain Bisema, is Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, next?
  •  What is coming next for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)?

So many questions, that may be clarified in the near future.