AFRICA/DR CONGO - The advance of the M23 towards Goma triggers waves of protests in the Country

Tuesday, 13 February 2024 armed groups   un  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "I have come to reassure you that we are working to bring peace to North Kivu. You must remain calm. Hand in hand, we will drive out the Rwandan M23 rebels who are attacking us", said the military governor of North Kivu, Major General Peter Cirimwami, who is trying to reassure the population of Sake, the village north of Goma under siege by the M23 rebels, who launched an offensive towards the capital of this eastern region earlier this month Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. During his visit on Sunday February 11, the military governor took note of the protests of the local population concerning the alleged complicity of the UN forces (MONUSCO) deployed in the region with the M23, accused of allowing rebel forces to pass towards the positions they controlled. And it is precisely the attitude of the international community towards the crisis in North Kivu which is at the origin of the demonstrations which have taken place in recent days in the capital of the DRC, Kinshasa, where yesterday, February 12, authorities increased security measures outside embassies and UN facilities, which were targeted by protesters.
The attacks targeted the diplomatic missions of the United States, Britain and France, as well as Poland, after the Polish president made some statements in support of Rwanda. The Congolese police's measures include a ban on motorcycle taxis entering the city of Gombe, the embassy district of Kinshasa. The motorcycle taxi drivers have been among the protagonists of the protests in recent days. In addition, street vendors and street children will no longer be allowed access to Gombe.
The Congolese population accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, even directly with its own troops. This suspicion is supported by a UN document according to which "an alleged surface-to-air missile from the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF)" targeted a UN observation drone on February 7, without hitting it. The missile was reportedly fired from an armored vehicle in an area controlled by the M23.
"French foreign military intelligence confirms that the WZ551 type armored vehicle, equipped with a surface-to-air missile system, is Rwandan", adds the report relayed by the AFP news agency. Also yesterday, the United Nations Security Council expressed concern over the "escalation of violence" in eastern DRC, condemning in a statement the offensive launched earlier this month by M23 rebels near Goma. The members of the Council “reiterated their condemnation of all armed groups operating in the country. They expressed their concern about the escalation of violence and the persistence of tensions in the region”. At the end of January, the bishops of the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi expressed their deep sadness at the persistence of poor relations between their Countries (see Fides, 31/1/2024). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 13/2/2024)