Congolese Military Replaces Commander In North Kivu


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¶1. (C) The Congolese military (FARDC) is replacing its
regional commander in North Kivu with the current chief of
operations in Ituri District. FARDC officials confirmed that
Brigadier General Vainqueur Mayala will be promoted to Major
General and will replace General Louis Ngizo as the commander
of the FARDC’s 8th Military Region (North Kivu), effective
immediately. Colonel Marcel Ekuba, commander of the FARDC’s
1st Integrated Brigade in Ituri, will assume Mayala’s post on
an interim basis.

¶2. (C) Mayala, a native of western Bas-Congo province, has
been commended for his role in helping reduce threat posed by
Ituri’s militias. He arrived in Ituri in November 2006 after
serving as an operational commander in South Kivu. Mayala
immediately renewed negotiations with militia leaders Peter
Karim, Cobra Matata and Mathieu Ngudjolo that had been
stalled for several months. In late November, he convinced
Matata and Ngudjolo to sign new ceasefire agreements that led
to the surrender of hundreds of their combatants. When Karim
refused to honor a separate disarmament accord, Mayala
launched a successful series of military operations that
cornered the militia leader and cut him off from his supply
routes. Karim subsequently surrendered and turned over some
800 fighters to military authorities.

¶3. (C) Ngizo, a former commander with the ANC (the armed wing
of the Kigali-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy), took up
the post of 8th Military Region Commander in November 2006.
He had previously served as deputy commander of the FARDC in
Katanga and South Kivu. Military officials and MONUC
observers in North Kivu said Ngizo was not a powerful
presence in the province and was often sidelined by
higher-ranking FARDC officials from Kinshasa, such as Air
Force Commander General John Numbi and Land Forces Commander
General Gabriel Amisi. For example, Ngizo was not consulted
and took no part in the December 2006 negotiations with
dissident General Laurent Nkunda that produced the “mixage”
process. MONUC officials said Ngizo left the provincial
capital Goma May 13, less than a month after the FARDC began
a new offensive against the FDLR. His next posting is not

¶4. (C) Comment: Mayala’s appointment to North Kivu raises the
question of whether the GDRC and FARDC are changing their
approach towards armed groups in the province. Although he
was criticized for making deals with the Ituri militia
leaders, Mayala did bring greater stability to the region and
managed the surrender of more than a thousand combatants
during his tenure. The problems of North Kivu, however, are
far more complicated and will require a great deal more
political acumen to resolve. End comment.