Congolese protestors flee after being dispersed by riot police outside a UN compound in July 2022. (REUTERS photo)

DRC: Goma residents protest against “ineffectual” East African Force

Riots that broke out on Monday in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to protest the failure of the East African Force to contain the advance of the M23 rebels entered the second day on Tuesday.

Riots that broke out on Monday in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to protest the failure of the East African Force to contain the advance of the M23 rebels entered the second day on Tuesday.

The riots, characterized by protestors lighting bonfires and barricading streets with boulders, on Tuesday spread to other environs of Goma.

The demonstrators demand that the regional force deployed in Goma either confront M23 insurgents or exit the country.

Some of the rioters held placards emblazoned with Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s caricatures and likeness and accused him of propping the M23 rebel outfit to subvert and loot minerals.

Residents could not commute as public transport remained paralyzed.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in DRC and Head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, condemned the violence that was instigated by the riots.

“All communities to foster dialogue and mutual understanding and to refrain from resorting to hate speech and inflammatory statements that could incite violence,” MONUSCO urged.

Tensions have been simmering between DRC and Rwanda over the latter’s alleged support for armed rebel groups in eastern DRC.

Last weekend, East African Community (EAC) leaders ordered a ceasefire between DRC government forces and M23 rebels and asked the government to facilitate the deployment of South Sudanese and Ugandan troops to join the East African Force in Goma.

Last month, the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) spokesperson, Major General Lul Ruai Koang, told Radio Tamazuj that the 750-strong force destined for DRC was in Mundri in Western Equatoria State processing their travel documents.

The extraordinary Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State last weekend in Bujumbura resolved that all troop-contributing countries to the East African Regional Force deploy troops to eastern DRC to help pacify the region.

“The Summit directed all troop-contributing countries to immediately deploy and urged DRC to immediately facilitate the deployment of troops from the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Uganda to the East African Regional Force,” the joint communique issued after the meeting read in part.

The meeting was attended by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Kenyan president William Ruto and South Sudan’s EAC Affairs Minister, Deng Alor Kuol.

Burundi was the first EAC country to deploy troops in South Kivu to hunt down Red Tabara rebels who have been attacking settlements in Burundi.

Kenya would later deploy 900 troops in Goma in North Kivu.

South Sudan and Uganda were expected to deploy troops late last year but it did not come to pass.