The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a Central African nation located in the heart of the continent. With a population of over 81 million people, it is one of the more populous countries in the region. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a unitary semi-presidential republic and its military consists of four branches: the Congolese Armed Forces, Gendarmerie Nationale Congolaise, Police Nationale Congolaise, and Garde Républicaine. The Congolese Armed Forces are responsible for defending the country’s borders and sovereignty, as well as providing security to its citizens. In terms of defense spending, DRC spends approximately $250 million annually on its military, making it one of the lowest defense spending nations in Africa. The country also participates in several United Nations-led peacekeeping missions such as those in Sudan and Burundi. The Democratic Republic of Congo is also a member of both the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN), and has close ties with other AU members such as South Africa and Angola. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In the Congo, in 1998–2003, the Second Congo War spread, a civil war involving eight surrounding countries. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that DRC stands for Democratic Republic of the Congo. The largest, yet ongoing, UN operation (MONUSCO) comprises about 20,000 men. Still (2017), not all disputes are settled and all military forces are organized under the government. Opposition forces remain, mainly in the provinces of Southern Kivu and Northern Kivu at the border with Rwanda.
The defense comprises about 140,000-150,000 men enlisted, including the Republican Guard of 6,000-8,000 men and semi-military security forces. It is loosely organized into 18 brigades, 3 fighters and 5 fighter aircraft. The material is outdated and of mixed Soviet, Chinese and Western origin. Defense costs increased in 1985-2007 from 0.9 percent to 1.7 percent of GDP.
The Armed Forces have suffered extensive desertions in connection with the success of the rebels. The UN effort from 48 countries includes in addition to 17,000 men and 700 observers. The largest contributors with the squad are India (4,400 men), Pakistan (3,600 men), Bangladesh (1,300 men), South Africa (1,150 men) and Nepal (1,000 men). Sweden has five observers.
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In December, Kabila, the guerrilla movements and opposition political parties signed an agreement that ended the war. As part of the agreement, a parliament with two chambers is to be set up, and at the same time a division of ministerial posts should be distributed between the Kabila government, the guerrilla groups and the opposition parties. New sub-agreements were signed in April and June 2003 on the distribution of ministerial and officer posts in the army. A transitional government must lead the country until 2005, when elections must be held. This government was deployed in July. Kabila is president and has 4 vice presidents: 2 of the leaders from the largest rebel groups, one from the political opposition and one from Kabila’s wing.
Yet the violence in Ituri continued in the eastern part of the country, where fighting between the Hema and Lendu tribes has cost 50,000 lives since 1999. In December 2003, the UN transferred some 8,000 of its 10,000 peacekeeping troops in the country to Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, in a attempts to disarm the local militia and protect the civilian population.
The result of the war has been that HIV/AIDS has become the biggest threat to the Congolese population. Soldiers’ mobility in the war zones but especially the mass rape of women, from little girls 5 years old to 80 years old, has caused the number of HIV cases to explode. In December, it was estimated that for every woman out of the 150 who seek help every month for rape and torture, there are 30 times more who have been raped.
In June 2004, UN peacekeeping troops killed two Congolese during a gunfight in Kinshasa when a UN installation was attacked by rebels. The clash happened after the city of Bukavu in the eastern part of the country was conquered by rebel soldiers. This led to protests against the UN in the cities of Bukavu, Kisangani and Kindu. The UN stated that the killings had occurred in self-defense, and that there were no other options than using force of arms. The UN further stated that the troops are very reluctant to use force since they are in the country to maintain peace. Kabila accused Rwanda of inciting the rebels’ attacks, but Rwanda declined to be involved.