The Congolese army has been hit hard on Sunday by the death of General Lucien Bahuma, Chief of Staff of the troubled region of North Kivu, which has played a key role in the recent successes of loyalist forces in the province of eastern DRC.
“General Bahuma died” in a military hospital in Pretoria “on the night in 0:30 of South Africa” (2230 GMT Saturday), told AFP the Congolese Minister of Defence, Alexander Luba Ntambo.
Major General Jean-Lucien Bahuma Ambamba was the victim Thursday at age 57 of “a stroke while attending a joint meeting” Staff in Uganda dedicated to the fight against the Ugandan rebels of Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) present in North Kivu, the minister added.
Saturday night, the rumor in Goma, capital of the province, he had been poisoned.
“It does not seem totally implausible. If this is the case, it means that nothing is settled “in North Kivu, told AFP an expert in this area under the cover of anonymity, noting that the accident was fatal produced in Uganda, which has supported and armed several rebellions in eastern DRC.
Mr. Luba Ntambo welcomed in the person of the deceased “a man totally devoted, a brave officer, someone who had given himself body and soul to his mission.”
“General Bahuma was a great man,” wrote the head of the UN Mission in Congo (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, on his Twitter account, “he will miss the DRC; I miss him. ”
According to military sources, a general was appointed for the interim head of the 8th military region Congolese Thursday. His identity has not been revealed.
– Resurgence of M23? –
Born in Orientale province in the northeast of the country, General Bahuma had arrived at the head of the general staff of North Kivu in 2012, after a succession of defeats loyalist forces against the rebel Mouvement March 23 (M23).
Under his leadership, the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), known previously for their indiscipline, poor organization, their ability to escape the fighting and mistreating civilians, recorded from 2013 a series of successes and eventually overcome the M23 in November of the same year, with the help of MONUSCO.
Since then, the army, which has won the hearts of the inhabitants of the region, attacked the ADF, present in northern North Kivu, which she wore a series of setbacks.
It has also stepped up its offensive against several Congolese militia of the province that roamed the general to support his men and see the progress on the ground.
General Bahuma “was for the people of North Kivu his deliverer (…) it leaves orphans in the people of our province,” wrote Civil Society of North Kivu in a statement.
His death comes as France has warned in early August the Security Council of the United Nations against the possibility of a military reorganization of the M23.
This week, several Congolese media were concerned such a resurgence of the rebel movement from Uganda and Rwanda, or even in North Kivu.
The Death of General Bahuma comes eight months after the murder of Colonel Mamadou Ndala emblematic officer of the new Congolese army.
General made posthumously, the leader of an elite unit, very popular and winner of many victories against the M23, was the victim of an attack in early January.
Drawing a parallel between the death of the two men, Struggle for Change (Lucha), “citizens’ movement” based in Goma, demanded Sunday authorities an “independent, fast and transparent in order to unequivocally determine the cause and General Bahuma circumstances. ”