AFRICA/DR CONGO - "We are tired of the impunity of guerrillas": protest of civil society in northern Kivu who call for greater security

Thursday, 14 September 2017 armed groups   civil society  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Some "dead city days" in Beni and Butembo (in North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo) to protest the insecurity that persists in the area due to the presence of numerous armed groups. Civil society in Butembo demands the resignation of the mayor and Butembo's urban security committee, who are accused of not protecting the population.
"Armed groups that have been operating in our region have been present for several years and in all these years have never been seriously hunted by law enforcement", said to Radio Okapi Polycarpe Ndivito, President of the Congo Federation Companies of Butembo and Lubero . Ndvito, amongst the promoters of the protest, also underlined the impunity enjoyed by armed groups acting in the region, who have taken advantage of the dialogue offered by the government, not to integrate into the social fabric, but to gain greater freedom of action.
Among the armed groups in North Kivu there are the ADF (an Ugandan guerrilla movement that has been in the east of the DRC for a long time), the FDLR (a group of Rwandan origin for more than 20 years in the area ) and various local groups that exploit ethnic rivalry to recruit young people.
Beyond political reasons, these groups are moved by economic interest. The North Kivu area is rich in natural resources, from coltan to tin, from timber to gold, which are being robbed by militants (often with the connivance of local civilian and military officials) and then exported with the complicity of foreign companies.
Local civil society seeks to oppose violence by resorting to peaceful protest forms, such as "dead city days" with shops, public offices, and schools that remain closed. On July 20 (see Fides 21/7/2017) three days of "dead city" were proclaimed by civil society in Beni to demand the liberation of Fr. Pierre Akilimali and Don Charles Kipasa, two Congolese priests who were abducted in the night between Sunday 16 and Monday 17 July (see Fides 18/7/2017). Nothing is known about the fate of the two priests. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 14/9/2017)