Democratic Republic of Congo declares ‘state of siege’ in violence-hit eastern province


The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, has declared a state of emergency over the increasing violence in the eastern provinces in North Kivu and Ituri.

The increased attacks by the intercommunal fighting and the armed groups in the eastern region of Congo have killed more than 300 people since the start of 2021. It further deepens the displacement and humanitarian crisis in the mineral-rich territory.

The spokesperson of the Government Patrick Muyaya while announcing the President’s decision stated that the objective is to smoothly end the insecurity which has been killing the citizens in that part of the country. However, the President has not yet announced what steps will be taken under the state of the siege.

What step will the government take to control the situation in the eastern province?

President Felix Tshisekedi had stated earlier that he has been preparing for radical measures to deal with the security situation in the Eastern part of Congo.

After that, the Prime Minister suggested that a state of emergency might be declared by the government in the Eastern province of Congo, further replacing the civil administration with the military administration.

An analyst at the Centre for Research on the Congo-Kinshasa, Kambale Musavali has stated that it looks like that the government will be sending more troops to the two affected regions.

In North Kivu and Ituri, the United Nations Peacekeepers and the government troops have continuously struggled to contain the violence.

Violence in Eastern Province of Congo: Background

Around 122 armed groups of different sizes operate in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of the groups are the legacy of the catastrophic regional wars in the 1990s in the region.

A rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces, formed in the neighbouring country Uganda more than 20 years ago, is responsible for much of the recent bloodshed.

The rebel group has committed a series of brutal attacks on the civilians ever since the nation’s army started operations against the group in late 2019. As per the UN figures, the group has killed about 850 people in 2020.

UNICEF informed in April 2021, that the violence led to a humanitarian crisis with more than 1.6 million people displaced in Ituri out of the total population of 5.7 million people. Around 2.8 million people in the region are in need of some form of emergency assistance.

Citizen protests against Congo government:

In North Kivu, dozen of students have been camping outside the town hall over the last week. They were demanding the departure of the UN Peacekeeping force and were asking for President  Felix Tshisekedi to visit the troubled region of Congo. The protestors were accusing the peacekeeping forces of failing to stop the rebel attacks.

However, the police and soldiers in the region had used tear gas and whips to scatter the high school students who were protesting the failure.

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