DR Congo + 3 more

DR Congo: Chronology 2002

News and Press Release
Originally published
NAIROBI, 17 January (IRIN)
3 January - Ugandan soldiers deploy in Bunia following escalation of ethnic fighting, in which some 50 people were killed in five days.

4 January - UN Security Council announces a new expert panel will convene in late January to continue inquiry into pillage of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) resources.

7 January - Burundi formally commits to withdraw its troops from DRC.

9 January - Amnesty International accuses DRC security forces of an alarming increase in arbitrary arrests and detentions.

17 January - Tens of thousands flee Goma following eruption of Mt Nyiragongo, located 10 km from the town.

17 January - Representatives of political opposition and civil society meeting in Brussels sign a 14-page document aimed at paving the way towards the inter-Congolese dialogue (ICD).

28 January - Refugees International warns of "a slow-motion holocaust" unfolding in eastern DRC.

January - Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) and Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-National (RCD-N) make territorial gains against the RCD-Kisangani-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K-ML), taking Isiro, Watsa and Bafwasende.

January - Clashes reported for the first time between Alur and Lendu in Nioka, to the north of Bunia. Ugandan media report 50 deaths.

January - EC resumes development aid to the DRC after a suspension of over 10 years.

1 February - Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi says situation in Bunia is explosive and calls on UN to send troops to take control of the area.

5 February - Humanitarian agencies in Bunia estimate more than 15,000 people have been displaced in surrounding region in recent weeks by ethnic conflict among the Lendu, Hema and Alur tribes and among political factions of several rebel groups.

5 February - Belgium apologises for its role in the 1961 killing of the Congolese prime minister, Patrice Lumumba.

14 February - Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Uganda should be held responsible for grave human rights violations taking place in territories it occupies in northeastern DRC.

14 February - International Court of Justice rejects Belgium's international arrest warrant for Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, a former foreign minister of the DRC, for alleged crimes "constituting grave violations of international humanitarian law".

18 February - Ethnic clashes between the Hema and Lendu communities in northeastern DRC last week led to the deaths of up to 200 people.

18 February - UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the DRC resumes its activities for six months.

19 February - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends that the UN Security Council consider increasing the overall number of UN troops and police in the country.

22 February - Zimbabwe's involvement in the conflict in war-torn DRC is allowing it to exploit that country's resources and keep Mugabe's government afloat, alleges British-based NGO Global Witness.

25 February - Classes resume in Goma after a five-week hiatus following the lava flows from Mt Nyiragongo that caused widespread damage in the town on 17 January.

25 February - Amid accusations of attempts to scupper the talks, the long-awaited ICD opens with all primary players present in Sun City, South Africa.

25 February - UN's Radio Okapi, a new network with a particular focus on peace-making efforts, is launched to coincide with the convocation of the ICD in Sun City.

February - A new governor of Ituri appointed by RCD-K-ML: Jean-Pierre Mulondo Lonpondo from Kasai. Thomas Lubanga becomes sidelined from the military control of the RCD-K-ML.

5 March - Ministry of Health reports 5,021 cases of cholera and 407 deaths in Katanga Province since the outbreak began in November last year.

19 March - HRW calls on the UN mission in the DRC, MONUC, to immediately send more military and civilian observers to the strife-torn Ituri District.

24 March - Two people are killed and 16 injured when a grenade is thrown into a Roman Catholic church congregation during an open-air mass in Goma. Kinshasa and RCD-Goma blame each other.

9 April - Signing of an agreement between MONUC and the MLC on the reopening of the Congo river to commercial and civilian traffic.

10 April - South African President Thabo Mbeki submits proposals to break a deadlock in the inter-Congolese dialogue.

11 April - Signing of an agreement between MONUC and RCD-Goma on the reopening of the Congo river to commercial and civilian traffic.

16 April - Belgian judges rule that the case against Ndombasi, who had been accused of war crimes and genocide, was inadmissible.

19 April - An agreement which could reunify most of the DRC is signed by the majority of delegates at the ICD in Sun City. However, the signing session is not recognised by the dialogue organisers, who had been hoping for an inclusive agreement involving all the main groups in conflict. Kinshasa and MLC sign a bilateral agreement on power-sharing in which Kabila remains president and MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba becomes prime minister, and call on other parties to join in. RCD-Goma rejects deal.

19 April - Radio Okapi's morning bulletins from Monday to Friday become available worldwide over the internet at http://www.radiookapi.net

26 April - RCD-Goma forms an alliance with five other DRC political parties to fight attempts by Kabila and MLC to form a new government, following an agreement made between them at the end of the ICD the previous week.

28 April - MLC officials make landmark visit to Kinshasa to cement a power-sharing deal with Kinshasa government.

29 April - Signing of agreement between MONUC and the Kinshasa government on reopening of Congo river to commercial and civilian traffic .

April - Thomas Lubanga starts to split from RCD-K-ML.

1 May - UN Security Council delegation arrives in Kisangani as part of a week-long mission to encourage peace efforts in the Great Lakes region.

2 May - France's ambassador to the UN announces proposal for a Great Lakes peace conference during current tour of region by UN Security Council delegation.

6 May - UN Security Council delegation ends its eight-nation mission to the Great Lakes region after holding a "positive" two-hour meeting in Rwanda with President Paul Kagame and other senior officials.

8 May - MONUC announces that a plan to create a buffer zone between the DRC and three of its eastern neighbours - Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi - has won unanimous support from countries in the region.

14 May - Fighting between RCD-Goma and dissident faction erupts in Kisangani.

19 May - Delegation from Kinshasa visits Ituri, including Human Rights Minister Ntumba Luaba, who says that three years of fighting led to 20,000 deaths.

21 May - Arrests and executions continue in Kisangani following failed mutiny within RCD-Goma.

22 May - MONUC accuses RCD-Goma of "grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law" in Kisangani, where the RCD is the de facto administrative authority. RCD-Goma calls for an independent inquiry.

24 May - Illegal exploitation of DRC natural resources is being consolidated in many areas, resulting in a ruinous effect on the civilian population, says interim report by UN panel of experts.

24 May - HRW reports that RCD-Goma forces have killed or seized dozens of civilians and others suspected of supporting a breakaway RCD faction following a mutiny in Kisangani on 14 May.

27 May - Kinshasa announces it will bring legal action against Rwanda in the International Court of Justice following the country's alleged role in recent killings and human rights abuses in Kisangani.

27 May - RCD-Goma leader Adolphe Onusumba declares MONUC head Amos Namanga Ngongi "persona non grata" and demands he be recalled.

29 May - Ngongi denies charges of partiality by RCD-Goma.

31 May - RCD-Goma expels three UN officials from areas under its control, accusing them of hostile acts against the movement.

May - Humanitarian agencies estimate 500,000 people are displaced in Ituri.

12 June - Former prime minister of Senegal, Moustapha Niasse, appointed UN Special Envoy to help push inter-Congolese dialogue forward.

13 June - Thomas Lubanga and others arrested while on mission to Kinshasa.

13 June - The International Court of Justice in The Hague begins hearings on DRC accusations against Rwanda of committing "genocide against more than 3.5 million people" on DRC territory.

17 June - UN Security Council extends mandate of MONUC until June 2003.

24 June - US government initiative to arrest the organisers of the 1994 Rwandan genocide - the Rewards for Justice programme, which offers up to US $5 million for information - is extended to the DRC.

26 June - The African Development Bank and the African Development Fund jointly approve a mechanism designed to help the DRC clear arrears of US $800 million owed them. The bank reports that the sum represents 60 percent of the total arrears the Congo owed both bodies.

14 July - World Bank President James Wolfensohn proposes cancellation of more than 80 percent of DRC's $12-billion debt.

15 July - Radio Okapi, the network operated by MONUC, expands its service to the northwestern town of Gbadolite.

16 July - UN report details "massacres" of at least 183 people in Kisangani, allegedly committed by RCD-Goma.

17 July - A joint investigation team from MONUC, the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), and the RCD-K-ML is established following fighting the previous week in Bunia.

17 July - UN and international aid agencies announce their first humanitarian evaluation mission to the region around Uvira since the beginning of hostilities in the region.

20 July - First commercial convoy on Congo river since hostilities erupted in the DRC four years ago leaves Kinshasa.

22 July - Five days of negotiations in Pretoria under the mediation of South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma result in an "understanding" being reached between the DRC and Rwanda.

25 July - Mt Nyamuragira in eastern DRC erupts, spewing lava to the north towards the towns of Sake and Tonga. No immediate threat to residents, however.

27 July - For the first time since war erupted four years prior, Kinshasa starts paying salaries to civil servants and soldiers in RCD-K-ML administration.

30 July - Peace accord between Rwanda and DRC signed in Pretoria.

3 August - UN humanitarian assessment mission sent to Baraka in South Kivu Province is surrounded by unidentified armed forces and ordered to leave the area immediately.

6 August - World Bank announces $454-million loan to enable rehabilitation of ailing economic and social sectors.

6-9 August - Hema militias, supported by UPDF and Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), attack an RCD-K-ML training camp in Bunia holding mainly Lendu and Ngiti recruits, and seize control of the town. Both sides perpetrate widespread killings of civilians. MONUC reports 110 deaths in the fighting.

9 August - South Africa and UN announce a joint secretariat to implement July peace agreement between DRC and Rwanda.

27 August - Kinshasa announces Sun City accord will be superseded by a comprehensive power-sharing transitional government agreement.

28 August - MONUC reports Uganda and Zimbabwe have begun withdrawing troops from DRC.

29 August - 1 September - Kinshasa Human Rights Minister Luaba Ntumba, accompanied by Thomas Lubanga, visits Bunia to bolster peace talks under way in Kinshasa. They are taken hostage by Chief Kahwa in Mandro. The kidnapping is soon resolved, however. Meanwhile, Ituri community leaders attending peace talks in Kinshasa demand departure of UPDF and their replacement by a police force. Ntumba alleges Rwanda is moving forces into Ituri in preparation for the departure of the UPDF.

3 September - Thomas Lubanga named UPC president, Adele Lotsove as finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Dhetchuvi as foreign minister and Joseph Eneku as governor.

4 September - Uganda announces it has officially withdrawn all its forces from the DRC, except for two battalions which would remain to safeguard civilian security in Bunia.

5 September - UNHCR expresses "grave concern" over the apparent forced repatriation, since 31 August, of some 1,500 Congolese refugees from Rwanda to North Kivu.

5 September - RCD-K-ML and Ngiti militia attack Nyankunde, about 20 km west of Bunia. They kill mainly Hema ethnic group and others said to have collaborated with them, including patients in their hospital beds and medical personnel of Nyankunde hospital. About 200 are killed in this attack and another several weeks earlier carried out by the UPC against RCD-K-ML supporters and the Ngiti.

6 September - Luanda accord signed between Uganda and DRC. A 100-day timetable is set for UPDF withdrawal after the establishment of an Ituri Pacification Committee.

18 September - UN confirms start of Rwanda troop withdrawal from Kindu.

23 September - MONUC confirms RCD-Goma has lifted its ban on Ngongi.

24 September - Paris Club announces immediate cancellation of about $4.64 billion of DRC's external debt.

25 September - Kinshasa announces a ban on all armed Rwandan groups operating in the country, and declares their leaders "personae non gratae".

27 September 2002 - Rwanda begins withdrawal of troops from North Kivu Province in eastern DRC.

27 September - Uganda and Kinshasa create joint commission to establish peace in Ituri.

29 September - Col Tharcisse Renzaho, suspected of having committed crimes against humanity during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, is arrested in Kinshasa and transferred to the Interational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

5 October - MONUC confirms withdrawal of 20,941 Rwandan soldiers from 21 assembly points.

7 October - Radio Okapi expands service to Bukavu, broadcasting on 98.6 FM. Bukavu becomes the ninth location in the country to have a local relay.

13 October - Burundi agrees to withdraw its remaining two battalions of troops from the DRC, while Kinshasa pledges that its territory will not serve as a rear base for Burundi Hutu rebel groups.

14 October - Mayi-Mayi militias capture Uvira from RCD-Goma following two days of intense fighting.

14 October - RCD-Goma suspends relations with Kinshasa following the capture of Uvira by Mayi-Mayi militias who, the RCD-Goma alleges, were backed by Kinshasa forces.

17 October - Amnesty International, in an open letter to the UN Security Council, warns that "deliberate incitement could lead to the possibility of genocide" in Ituri.

19 October - RCD-Goma retakes Uvira from Mayi-Mayi forces. Thousands of civilians flee.

21 October - Second UN report on illegal exploitation of DRC's resources adds more damning accusations against Rwanda, Uganda and "elite networks" behind the plunder.

23 October - UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie warns that unless the international community acts to forestall incitement of ethnic hatred in the eastern DRC, the country would face "a massacre of horrific proportions".

25 October - DRC public prosecutor announces it will open its own inquiry into allegations made by latest UN report on the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the DRC.

25 October - UNHCR in Rwanda reports that forcible repatriations from Rwanda of Tutsi refugees who fled eastern DRC in the 1990s to escape ethnic persecution appear to have ceased.

29 October - Breakthrough in power-sharing talks as MLC says it would accept, with certain conditions, a power-sharing agreement with Kinshasa and RCD-Goma.

30 October - Kinshasa officially bids farewell to armed forces of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The allied forces halted an armed offensive on Kinshasa launched in August 1998 by rebel groups backed by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

31 October - UN Special Rapporteur probing conditions in the DRC reports that massive violations of human rights are still continuing in the DRC, especially in areas controlled by the MLC and RCD-Goma.

31 October - HRW urges the UN to increase MONUC forces to protect civilians against slaughter in eastern DRC, including Ituri.

October 2002 - Humanitarian agencies encounter difficulties in securing flight permissions to land in Bunia. Relations between the UPC, which controls Bunia, and humanitarian agencies remain strained.

2 November - Kabila dismisses leaders of state diamond mining company, Miniere de Bakwanga (Miba), two weeks after its head, Jean-Charles Okoto, is named in UN expert panel report on illegal exploitation of DRC's natural resources. Kinshasa, however, denies the dismissals are linked to UN report.

6 November - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that access to at least 900,000 internally displaced persons IDPs in eastern DRC remains "impossible".

6 November - FAO reports that between 10 - 30 percent of the population are suffering from acute malnutrition in many areas of eastern DRC. Those most affected are women and children.

11 November - Kabila suspends six government officials whose names appeared in UN report on the pillage of the DRC's natural resources.

15 November - Warring factions gather in Pretoria to begin another round of talks aimed at reaching a peace deal.

18 November - A new law promulgated by Kabila would soon abolish the Cour d'ordre militaire (Military Order Court). The new law, however, states that judgments already rendered by the court would remain valid. The court was instituted in August 1998 when war erupted between the Kinshasa government and rebel movements supported by Rwanda and Uganda.

20 November - Humanitarian community launches appeal for $268.65 million in aid for 2003.

20 November - MONUC announces completion of first phase of repatriation of Rwandan ex-combatants based in Kamina.

22 November - Cholera epidemic that erupted in September in Kasai Oriental Province continues to spread. As at 19 November, a total of 1,156 people were reported affected while another 80 were reported to have died.

22 November - Orientale governor (and former Ituri governor), Joseph Eneku, killed in an ambush 20 km from Mahagi.

November - Progress on the Ituri Pacification Committee remains stalled due to insistence of Lubanga that Ituri be recognised as a province, not a district. Kinshasa refuses.

4 December - UN Security Council approves nearly 3,200 additional peacekeepers for MONUC, raising the ceiling to a total of some 8,700 troops.

6 December - RCD-Goma, MLC announce they are uniting against the government, saying the Kabila administration is not giving them a fair role in the future administration.

17 December - Comprehensive peace deal signed at talks in Pretoria under which Kabila will remain in office and four new vice-presidents will be drawn from the government, RCD-Goma, the MLC and opposition groups, paving the way for a transitional government and eventual elections.

18 December - UPC's Thomas Lubanga provides security guarantees for NGOs working in Ituri, following continued difficulties for NGOs operating in the area and the expulsion of the OCHA representative in Bunia.

30 December - Leaders of three rival militias groups - MLC, RCD-N, and RCD-K-ML - sign ceasefire agreement in Gbadolite, which could, if respected, allow for provision of humanitarian assistance.

31 December - 35,000 flee heavy artillery fire around Makeke, between North Kivu and Ituri District, to Beni.


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