Democratic Republic of the Congo: Movement for the Liberation of Congo (Mouvement de libération du Congo, MLC), including leadership and treatement of party members (2009-2012)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Publication Date||16 March 2012|
|Related Document||République démocratique du Congo : information sur le Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC), y compris ses dirigeants et le traitement réservé à ses membres (2009-2012)|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Democratic Republic of the Congo: Movement for the Liberation of Congo (Mouvement de libération du Congo, MLC), including leadership and treatement of party members (2009-2012), 16 March 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f9e58782.html [accessed 30 August 2015]|
1. Movement for the Liberation of Congo
From 2006 to 2011, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (Mouvement de libération du Congo, MLC) was the main opposition party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (CongoPlanet.com 3 Feb. 2012; Le Monde 2 Feb. 2012; Challenges 24 Nov. 2011), with 64 elected representatives (ibid.; International Crisis Group 5 May 2011, 24). New elections in November 2011 saw 22 MLC members elected to the legislature (Le Monde 2 Feb. 2012; DRC n.d.). According to the DRC electoral commission, the party now holds the fifth highest number of seats as a result of the 2011 elections (ibid.). A majority of the MLC representatives (13 seats) are located in Equateur province (ibid.1 Feb. 2012).
Several sources reported in 2011 on challenges faced by the MLC in the lead-up to the November 2011 elections (France 24 23 Nov. 2011; RFI 5 May 2011; ISS 11 May 2011; International Crisis Group 5 May 2011, 6). The French television and online news source France 24 reported that the party was "divided" (23 Nov. 2011). Radio France internationale (RFI) described the MLC as [translation] "cut in half" and in a state of "crisis" (5 May 2011). An analysis published by the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, a "pan-African applied policy research institute" working on human security (ISS n.d.), stated that the MLC has "suffered serious damage since " due in part to leadership difficulties (ibid. 11 May 2011). The International Crisis Group wrote in a report on the electoral process that the party is "in decline" and in a "deep internal crisis because of the presence/absence of its leader" (5 May 2011, 6, 24).
The president of the MLC, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo [commonly known as Jean-Pierre Bemba], was arrested in 2008 on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by MLC militia under his command in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003 (RNW 9 Sept. 2011; Hirondelle News Agency 25 Aug. 2011). His trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) began in November 2010 and is reportedly expected to last until December 2012 (ibid.).
Sources indicate that, at its party convention in July 2011, the MLC renewed Bemba's mandate as party president for a five-year term (Le Potentiel 25 July 2011; Congo Indépendant 24 July 2011). Bemba was also designated the MLC's official candidate for the 2011 presidential elections (Le Potentiel 25 July 2011; France 24 23 Nov. 2011; Congo Indépendant 24 July 2011). However, the ICC reportedly did not allow him to leave prison in The Hague to file his candidacy in the DRC (RNW 9 Sept. 2011; Hirondelle News Agency 9 Sept. 2011). Sources indicate that the MLC did not have an official presidential candidate on the ballots of the 2011 election (Direct.cd 12 Sept. 2011; France 24 23 Nov. 2011; RNW 16 Nov. 2011). In November 2011, prior to the elections, Bemba reportedly praised three presidential contenders and called on the Congolese population to vote for the candidate who stood the best chance of defeating the incumbent [President Joseph Kabila] (Challenges 24 Nov. 2011; La Prospérité 24 Nov. 2011).
Sources indicate that François Mwamba [also spelled Muamba; also known as François Muamba Tshishimbi] was ousted as the secretary-general of the party in April 2011 (France 24 23 Nov. 2011; ISS 11 May 2011; Congo Indépendant 24 July 2011). Mwamba was reportedly replaced by Thomas Luhaka [also known as Thomas Luhaka Losandjola] (ISS 11 May 2011; Le Potentiel 25 July 2011). Sources in 2011 and 2012 identified Jean Lucien Bussa Tongba as the deputy general-secretary of the party (The Reporter 1 Oct. 2011; Radio Okapi 10 Feb. 2012); however, Radio Okapi, the UN radio in the DRC (ibid. n.d.), reported in February 2012 that Tongba had been suspended from his functions (ibid. 10 Feb. 2012). The online newspaper Congo Indépendant, which is published by a Brussels-based not-for-profit organization known as Les Amitiés Congo-Europe (n.d.),stated in July 2011 that Jean-Jacques Mbungani Mbanda had recently been promoted to the position of deputy national-secretary responsible for foreign relations (24 July 2011).
2.1 Defections of Party Leaders
The RFI reported in July 2011 that former MLC general-secretary François Muamba had formed a new opposition party, the Alliance for the Development and the Republic (Alliance pour le développement et la République, ADR) (11 July 2011).
Sources report that, in April 2011, José Makila Sumanda [commonly known as José Makila], the former governor of Equateur province who has been described by the International Crisis Group as "the former right-hand man of Jean-Pierre Bemba" (5 May 2011), had defected to form a new party, the Labour Alliance for Development (Alliance des travaillistes pour le développement, ATD) (International Crisis Group 5 May 2011, 4; L'Observateur 14 Apr. 2011).
Congolese media sources report that Adam Bombole, the leader of the MLC in Kinshasa, ran for president in the 2011 elections (ACP 12 Sept. 2011; Direct.cd 12 Sept. 2011). Online news source Direct.cd indicates that Bombole, lacking the endorsement of the MLC, broke away from the party to run as an independent candidate (ibid.).
3. Reports of Violence and Other Mistreatment Committed Against Party Members
Media sources report that Marius Gangalé, an MLC party leader, was shot to death in Kinshasa in November 2011 (RFI 23 Nov. 2011; Radio Okapi 23 Nov. 2011). Daniel Botethi, vice-president of the Kinshasa Provincial Assembly and an MLC party leader, was reportedly killed in July 2008 by an armed group (US 25 Feb. 2009; Radio Okapi 9 July 2008).
According to a report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) on human rights in the pre-electoral period, an MLC member in South Kivu province was arrested in March 2011 for owning a journal questioning President Kabila's nationality and had not been released from detention at the time the report was published in November 2011 (UN Nov. 2011, 13). The report also mentions the arrest of an MLC member in Equateur province for organizing a demonstration in support of the former Governor, another member of the MLC (ibid.).
In 2009, Amnesty International reported that military or police officers with suspected ties to the MLC were subject to "regular arbitrary arrests by state security forces" (2009). Additional information on acts of violence committed by or against MLC members between 2009 and 2012 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
4. Recruitment and Membership
Information on recruitment activities and membership in the MLC, including membership cards, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Agence Congolaise de Presse (ACP). 12 September 2011. "RDC-Elections/ 12 candidats dans la course à la présidentielle de novembre prochain."
Amnesty International. 2009. "Democratic Republic of the Congo." Amnesty International Report 2011: The State of the World's Human Rights.
Challenges [Paris]. 24 November 2011. "Bemba préconise un front electoral anti-Kabila en RDC."
Congo Indépendant [Brussels]. 24 July 2011. "Le MLC 'vote' JP Bemba. Des opposants sont 'troublés'."
_____. N.d. "Aidez votre journal."
CongoPlanet.com. 3 February 2012. "Kabila's Party Loses Seats in Parliament, Increasing Reliance on Allies."
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 1 February 2012. Elections des députés nationaux de 2011: Résultats provisoires.
_____. N.d. "Graphique des partis ayant obtenu plus de 5 députés."
Direct.cd. 12 September 2011. "RDC: Candidat indépendant, Adam Bombole défie le MLC."
France 24. 23 November 2011. Gaëlle Le Roux and Joseph Bamat. "Jailed Opposition Leader Bemba Could Tip DRC Vote."
Hirondelle News Agency. 9 September 2011. "Rwanda: ICC Refuses Bemba's Provisional Release."
_____. 25 August 2011. "Bemba Intends to Run for President from His ICC's Jail."
Institute for Security Studies (ISS). 11 May 2011. Melanie Roberts. "A Changing Political Landscape in the DRC."
_____. N.d. "About Us."
International Crisis Group. 5 May 2011. Congo: The Electoral Dilemma. Africa Report No. 175.
Le Monde [Paris]. 2 February 2012. "RDC: majorité absolue aux législatives pour le camp Kabila."
L'Observateur [Kinshasa]. 14 April 2011. Freddy Longangu. "José Makila nie avoir reçu 2.500.000 USD de la Majorité."
Le Potentiel [Kinshasa]. 25 July 2011. "A l'issue de son 2ème Congrès ordinaire: Le MLC renouvelle sa confiance à Jean-Pierre Bemba." <http://www.lepotentiel.com/afficher_article.php?id_edition=&id_article=112974> [Accessed 8 Mar. 2012]
La Prospérité [Kinshasa]. 24 November 2011. "Congo-Kinshasa: MLC - Difficle choix de Bemba!"
Radio France internationale (RFI). 23 November 2011. "RDC: un député du MLC assassiné dans sa voiture à Kinshasa."
_____. 11 July 2011. "En RDC, François Muamba crée son propre parti."
_____. 5 May 2011. "RDC: crise au sein du Mouvement de libération du Congo."
Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW). 16 November 2011. Alice Bafiala. "DRC Elections: Bemba Supporters Still in the Game."
_____. 9 September 2011. Thijs Bouwknegt. "ICC Defendant Will Not Run for Congo Presidency."
Radio Okapi. 10 February 2012. "Mémorandum contre Jean-Lucien Busa: Thomas Luhaka parler d'un débat interne."
_____. 23 November 2011. "Kinshasa: le député provincial Marius Gangale du MLC tué à Selembao."
_____. 9 July 2008. "Kinshasa: Daniel Botethi reposera au cimitière de la Gombe."
_____. N.d. "A propos."
The Reporter [Addis Ababa]. 1 October 2011. Merga Yonas. "As DRC Heads for National Election, AAU Hosts Peace, Security Meeting."
United Nations (UN). November 2011. UN Joint Human Rights Office. Report of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms During the Pre-electoral Period in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
United States (US). 25 February 2009. Department of State. "Democratic Republic of the Congo." Country Repofts on Human Rights Practices for 2008.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Attempts to contact Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) headquarters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Belgium, and France, as well as MLC members of parliament, were unsuccessful.
Internet sites, including: ACE Project; African Observer; Australia Refugee Review Tribunal; British Broadcasting Corporation; Bembatrial.org; Carter Center; Coalition for the International Criminal Court; Congonline.com; Europa World Plus; Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme; GrandsLacsTV.com; International Bureau for Children's Rights; Ireland Legal Aid Board; Kongo Times; MLC-Diaspora; Mouvement de Libération Congo; Political Handbook of the World; Trust Africa; United Kingdom Country of Origin Information; United Nations — High Commissioner for Refugees, Security Council; United States — Central Intelligence Agency, Congressional Research Services; Voice of Congo.