Security forces move into the Pool region

BRAZZAVILLE, 7 October 2010 (IRIN) - Congolese forces have moved into the southern Pool region, which witnessed several civil wars between 1998 and 2003, in a move aimed at helping to restore state control ahead of plans to rehabilitate basic infrastructure, say officials.

The operation, launched on 1 October, will involve a contingent of police and army forces. “Thirty percent of the contingent are from the army,” Col. Jean-Aive Alakoua, the Congolese police spokesman, told IRIN.

Officials declined to provide the total number deployed for security reasons.

“[The operation] will be carried out in several stages. The first stage will last three months and will comprise the identification of areas for the construction of army brigades and police stations,” said Alakoua. “After the identification, we will… settle our soldiers.”

The Pool region, which lies between the capital Brazzaville and the economic capital Pointe-Noire, further south, is still characterized by banditry.

“For years there has been no state authority in the Pool. And the result is that there are more and more train robberies and roadblocks…” Alakoua told IRIN, adding that the operation was aimed at helping to restore law and order to the region.

A railway line links Brazzaville to Pointe-Noire.

The security mission is being led by the head of the 36th Motorized Infantry Battalion, Commander Wilfried Lekana-Ngoumba, who said: “We are going to pacify the Pool because there are neither police stations nor police forces in this area.”

A disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation programme targeting 30,000 ex-combatants was launched in the Pool in 2008. Among its targets were 5,000 of the then militia leader’s Frédéric Bintsamou, alias Pasteur Ntumi’s, ninjas who fought the army during the civil wars. Ntumi has since been appointed special delegate in charge of the promotion of peace in the Pool.

According to analysts, few programmes have been realized on a large scale in the Pool since the war ended in 2003. At present, a road linking the main town of Kinkala to Brazzaville is under construction.

Another project aimed at improving access and the quality of basic infrastructure is expected to be launched in 2012. “It is to prepare for this project that we have decided to consolidate the peace in the Pool,” added Alakoua.