The situation is increasingly tense and uncertain in North Kivu, where clashes are reported in Runyiony, along the border with Rwanda and Uganda, displacing scores. The fighting broke out in the volatile north-eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo between the regular armed forces (FARDC) and mutinous soldiers, former rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) of the wanted General Bosco Ntaganda.
Despite the alarming reports from the front, the army command released reassuring statements. “Hundreds of troops have already returned to ranks after Saturday’s ultimatum. Now we are working on resolving the matter of a small group alongside Ntaganda, hiding out in the Virunga Park on the border with Rwanda”, stated Colonel Sylvain Ekenge, army spokesman for North and South Kivu.
Ivan Simonovic, the United Nations assistant secretary-general for human rights, addressed the strong humanitarian impact of the latest developments in east DR-Congo, specifying that “since April some 40,000 have been displaced in North Kivu: a movement of the population caused directly and indirectly by the recent desertions. In addition, there have been reports of human rights violations. We must intervene to impede an escalation of the conflict”, he said from Kinshasa.
A local MISNA source contacted in Goma (capital of North Kivu), who asked to remain anonymous, stressed that “the people here are frightened, but mostly resigned in face of the long-lasting security problem, never entirely resolved by President Joseph Kabila”.
The MISNA source explained that in reality “the problem is the Rwandan presence in the East and threat of an intervention by Kigali in apparent defence of its territory”. Armed combatants involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide fled into DR-Congo, heightening the insecurity and exploiting the natural resources. “The population of the East is also disappointed and angry over the indifference of the international community, represented by the costly MONUSCO (former MONUC) that has never contributed to resolving the situation, while the civilians pay the highest price”.
The crisis in the East is a focus also in Kinshasa, where the new government headed by Prime Minister Matata Ponyo held an emergency cabinet meeting, a day after the parliament confidence vote with 324 on 324 in favour. “President Kabila called on the new government to make the stabilisation and peace in the East a priority, given that unrest in Kivu risks hindering national economic development efforts”, stated Communications minister Lambert Mende Omalanga.