AFRICA/DR CONGO - "Bloody invisible hands fuel the conflict between Teke and Yaka"

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 wars   bishops  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The bloodthirsty invisible hands of Kinshasa" are at the origin of the conflict in the region of Kwamouth, in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This was affirmed by the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kinshasa (which includes the dioceses of Boma, Idiofa, Inongo, Kenge, Kikwit, Kinshasa, Kisantu, Matadi, Popokabaka) in a statement published on Sunday May 21 at the end of their Assembly.
Communal violence began in June 2022 in Kwamouth territory (Mai-Ndombe province), following a territorial dispute between the Teke, who believe they are the owners of the villages located along the Congo River for about 200 kilometers, and the Yaka, who settled in the area after them (see Fides, 29/9/2022)
Since then, the violence has spread to the neighboring provinces of Kwilu and Kwango to reach the municipality of Maluku, at the entrance to Kinshasa (see Fides, 16/5/2023). The clashes left at least 300 dead, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch.
"In fact, starting from a land dispute, this conflict is taken up by people defending hidden interests of a political and economic nature", say the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kinshasa who carried out an exploratory mission in the region to understand the nature of the confrontation.
"Following several pastoral visits, interviews, contacts and testimonies collected, we came to the intimate conviction that invisible and bloodthirsty hands, originating from Kinshasa, are hidden behind all these conflicts", denounce the Bishops, according to whom the conflict is exploited "by certain politicians in search of local legitimacy". There are also, according to the bishops, "economic interests aimed at confiscating lands from the peoples who have always occupied them peacefully".
The Bishops conclude by launching an appeal for dialogue and reconciliation between the different tribes and ethnic groups, and by inviting politicians to pursue not partisan interests but those of the nation. The conflict has caused the exodus of tens of thousands of people. Among them, more than 3,000 displaced people from the Kwamouth area have been welcomed in Bandundu, assisted by the local Caritas. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2023)