September 20, 2014 / 11:34 AM / 5 years ago

Congo's Kabila promotes general accused of selling arms to rebels

President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila (C) attends the launch of an agricultural business park in Kinshasa, July 15, 2014. Picture taken July 15. REUTERS/Peter Jones

KINSHASA (Reuters) - President Joseph Kabila has named to a top army post a general accused by U.N. experts of selling weapons to rebel groups responsible for massacring civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo’s violence-plagued east.

Kabila appointed General Gabriel Amisi to the first of three newly-created national zones of defence, comprising the capital Kinshasa and western provinces.

It formed part of a reshuffle of the top ranks of Congo’s military on Thursday, confirmed by the army’s chief of state on Friday, which analysts greeted as a move by Kabila to consolidate his sway over the army.

“It has been a bit of a mess in recent years. It seems that he wants to make it more efficient and put in place people that he knows very well,” says Dominic Johnson, an analyst at the Pole Institute, a research centre in eastern Congo.

Kabila also appointed the head of the Republican Guard, Major General Dieudonné Banze, as the new commander of ground forces. The Republican Guard is widely seen as the president’s most effective support among the security services.

Amisi, widely known by his former radio call sign “Tango Four”, was suspended by Kabila from his position as commander of Congo’s ground forces in November 2012 after a U.N. group of experts report accused him of overseeing a network that supplied arms and ammunition to rebel forces and criminal gangs.

He was reappointed to the military last month, according to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, which criticised the failure to open a judicial case against him.

Congo’s army has been hamstrung by corruption and internal rivalries as it deals with ongoing instability caused by dozens of armed militias.

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