Crisis in the Congo: At least 43 dead in protests against the UN peacekeeping mission

At least 43 people were killed and 56 injured during protests by a religious sect from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) against the United Nations mission (Monusco) in the country this Wednesdaywhom they accused of failing to protect civilians, the Congolese government reported.

“Protesters disturbed public order and stoned a police officerleading to the intervention of the security forces to restore calm and serenity to the city (Goma),” the DRC’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media said in a statement released late Thursday.

“While we regret the loss of life, The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo sends its condolences to the families of the victims and extends its deepest sympathy to those injured” the document added.

According to the ministry, the country’s authorities have launched a military investigation so that “the perpetrators can answer for their crimes in court”.

Security forces also arrested 158 people.including the leader of the sect that organized the protests, Ephraim Bisimwa, who “will be tried in the next few hours.”

The mobilizations took place in the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province and one of the largest cities in the east of the country.

On the day of the protests, provincial authorities reported the deaths of seven people but said the “count” was still “preliminary”.

The protesters belonged to the Messianic Judaic Natural Faith for the Nations (FNJMN) sect, whose members call themselves “Wazalendo” (“patriots” in Swahili), like the armed militias They work with the Congolese army to fight other rebel groups in the east of the country.

This is not the first time that the Congolese people have taken to the streets to protest against Monusco, which has had a presence in the DRC for more than two decades and is often accused of not doing enough for the peopleProtect civilians from the more than hundred armed groups operating in the east of the country.

The June 2022 protests led to attacks and looting of UN facilities at various locations, with at least 33 people dead, including civilians and four peacekeepers, officials said.

Following these events, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi spoke with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in August 2022 to address the crisis, after confirming that the mission’s “gradual withdrawal plan” was underway from 2024.

Eastern DRC has been locked in a conflict fueled by rebel militias and attacks by army soldiers for more than two decades, though Monusco is deployed with around 16,000 troops. EFE

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