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Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS) / PARECO-Hunde

Members of the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS - "Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo Libre" in French -- aka PARECO-Hunde) come almost exclusively from the Hunde ethnic group. Hundes comprise about 5% of North Kivu's population and are concentrated in Masisi Territory, where the group historically controlled the land through its traditional chiefs. The APCLS appears to have attracted increasing numbers of non-Hunde recruits, primarily non-Rwandophones, but also some Hutus. Visitors to APCLS-controlled areas report that the group maintains excellent relations with the locals, who view them as a protection force. The Nande may not be fighters, but they are adept politicians and have enormous economic clout in North Kivu and nationally. If their interests are seriously threatened, they can hire militias and back proxies.

APCLS's expressed objective is to protect Hunde and other Congolese citizens, i.e., non-Tutsis, in its area of operations. It was formed in 2006 as part of PARECO, but split from the group in January 2008 when it refused to sign the Goma Accords -- the only major armed group that refused to do so. It claims about 1,500 fighters, organized into four brigades; MONUC estimates have been as high as 2,500; though others believed its forces could number between 500-800. Its troops appeared to be reasonably well armed with assault rifles, light mortars, and a few machine guns and RPGs.

Decision making within the APCLS is highly centralized around the group's leader, "General" Janvier Buingo Karairi. All but one of the senior leadership is Hunde and most had spent time in the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). APCLS receives revenue from the small gold and cassiterite mines in its operating areas. However, some sources estimate that the primary source of funding for the APCLS is support -- money and weapons -- from wealthy Hunde politicians, landowners, and businessman. One of the most commonly mentioned probable supporters is North Kivu Vice-Governor Lutaichirwa Feller. Similar to most rebel groups, the APCLS also taxed locals, primarily as the population transports produce and goods between villages.

The APCLS coordinates its activities with the FDLR. It is not clear whether the FDLR supplies the APCLS with weapons, munitions, or training, or whether there is joint planning. Most observers believe the collaboration is generally ad hoc, with both groups sensitive to retain their separate identities. However, they both recognize that they share a common enemy, the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). Janvier, according to several sources, does not view MONUC as neutral, but as fighting in support of a CNDP takeover of the area.

The non-Rwandophones are long-standing Kabila loyalists, but by 2009 a "Rwandophone agenda" was being aggressively pursued in North Kivu. Congolese Hutus are a source of potential resistance to the Rwandophone agenda. Many intensely distrust both Tutsis in general and Rwanda in particular. As long as it continues to offer benefits and to wield a big stick, the Rwandophone policy can win, and so far has won, their (at least passive) support. Ultimately however, it is seen by many Hutus as a Rwandan, Tutsi venture -- a political construct capable of seducing Hutu leaders and elites, but which will not in the long-term represent the interests of ordinary Hutus. For example, the Hutu elements of PARECO are openly complain about preferential CNDP (Tutsi) treatment, in the form of its agreement with the GDRC, its greater number of command positions in the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), etc.

The biggest losers from the Rwandophone rise will be the other ethnic groups in North Kivu, such as the Hunde, and especially the Nande. In the medium to long-term, the most serious resistance to the Rwandophone ascendency is likely to come from these groups. Long-standing tensions over land and economic and political control could erupt into violent resistance if the Rwandophones achieve all their objectives, particularly the "decoupage" (splitting North Kivu into two separate provinces, the Petit Nord and the Grand Nord). While unlikely, conflict could even draw in Uganda, the Nande's historical ally.

The strongest resistance so far is from the Hunde. Colonel Janvier, the Hunde Mai Mai leader of what used to be the Hunde wing of PARECO is in Goma and he is surrounded by a robust contingent of bodyguards. The Hunde still controlled the terrain between Masisi town and Walikale, which explained why Rwandan units now in control of Walikale had to be airlifted in.

The APCLS is likely to remain an irritant in Masisi for the foreseeable future. It will continue to act as a force to protect the Hunde community from real and perceived threats from the Rwandophone agenda. It has undoubtedly become more intractable in its opposition to any participation in the peace process, as reports of Congolese armed forces (FARDC) human rights violations in its area of operation have surfaced. However, its ability to disrupt and combat Congolese armed forces (FARDC)/MONUC forces will be limited; the real danger lies with a more systematic cooperation amongst the APCLS, FDLR, and disgruntled Mai Mai forces.

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Page last modified: 21-11-2012 18:50:38 ZULU