Violence Escalating in DR Congo Over Elections, Says MONUSCO's Maman Sidikou

MONUSCO's Maman Sidikou briefing the UN Security Council on Jan 14, 2016

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“Given the very real risks of civil unrest and violence related to the electoral process, it is critical that all efforts be made to rebuild confidence among the stakeholders to find a way forward," Maman Sidikou, Head of UN Peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said on Thursday, January 14, 2016 while briefing the UN Security Council.

 Maman Sidikou was briefing the UN Security Council on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in DRC, overall, due to deeply divisive electoral process and the on-going civil war and chaos in the Eastern province of North-Kivu, in particular.

According to MONUSCO head, "there has been a significant deterioration in the eastern part of the country in recent weeks,” and the “ situation appears to be worsening in Lubero (North-Kivu Province), potentially into openly inter-ethnic conflict between the Hutus and Nande communities."

It appears that ethnically based militias are being formed and targeting competing ethnic groups.  Mama Sidikou said  the Nande  militias have been systematically attacking and massacring Hutus civilians, accusing them of being affiliated with Rwanda rebels, known as FDLR. 

However, sources in the area have told AfroAmerica Network that the rivalries among Congolese tribes are very old and evolve around the competition for territories, land and political influence, with Rwandan rebels being the easier excuse and the Rwandan government involvement fueling these inter-ethnic  conflicts. 

Maman Sidikou, who has recently replaced the controversial Martin Kobler, whose term was not extended allegedly due his open conflict with DRC President Joseph Kabila,  appears to have a tough job ahead. He alluded to the difficulties ahead, when he said: 

Presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November of this year are a deeply divisive issue, particularly given the continued absence of an agreed electoral calendar or a budget for the elections ... In the absence of agreement on the electoral process, political polarization has heightened tensions and contributed to an atmosphere of increased harassment and human rights violations. ... This, combined with a rising number of human rights abuses by armed groups in eastern DRC, demonstrates a worrying trend of narrowing political space and a real challenge to the conduct of peaceful credible elections.”

Saying that the situation is under control by DRC government, and almost downplaying the warning from Maman Sidikou, DRC Representative to the UN emphasized that the major problems are:

  • the failure by the International Community to find  solutions aimed at the repatriation to Rwanda or resettlement to other countries outside the region of Rwandan refugees based in Eastern Congo and at the complete disarmament and repatriation of Rwandan backed formed Congolese rebels known as M23.
  • the issue of creating reliable and credible  lists of eligible voters