DR Congo declares a “siege” over aggravated violence in the east

The Democratic Republic of Congo announced a “besieged state” late Friday in two provinces in the eastern part of the country that are being broken by violence by armed groups and civilian massacres.

“Taking into account the seriousness of the situation … the President informed the Cabinet of his decision to declare a besieged state in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri,” said Patrick Muyaya.

He said that details of what the measure would mean would be made public in the next few hours.

According to the DRC’s constitution, the president can declare either a state of emergency or a siege state “if difficult circumstances immediately threaten the independence or integrity of the national territory, or if they interrupt the regular functioning of the institutions”.

On Thursday, President Felix Tshisekedi said he was preparing “radical measures” to deal with the security situation in the east.

This followed the Prime Minister, who on Monday proposed that a state of emergency could be declared in the east, “replacing the civilian administration with a military administration”.

An estimated 122 armed groups of various sizes operate in the mineral-rich eastern DRC, many legacies from regional wars in the 1990s.

In Paris on Tuesday, Tshisekedi asked France for help in “eradicating” one of them, the allied democratic forces, from the Beni region of northern Kivu.

Tear gas and whips

The ADF militia are Ugandan Islamist fighters who have been based in the eastern DRC since 1995.

The ADF has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017, according to a monitor called the Kivu Security Tracker (KST).

The army has been conducting operations against them in the region since October 2019, but has not been able to stop the massacre of civilians.

On Friday, Beni police and soldiers used tear gas and whips to disperse high school students protesting against the failure.

Dozens of students had camped outside City Hall over the past week, demanding that the UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO resign and that Tshisekedi visit the troubled region.

(AFP)

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