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Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Angola, DR Congo migrant expulsion row

DR Congo Angola migrants rowDemocratic Republic of Congo summoned the Angolan ambassador over the expulsion of Congolese migrants from Angola during a crackdown on artisanal diamond mining this month, Congo’s foreign minister said.

Congolese migrants and officials said dozens of people were killed during an operation by Angolan security forces and an allied ethnic group. Angola denies this and says many Congolese migrants left voluntarily.

“The Government of the Republic of Congo urges Angola to conduct a comprehensive investigation to establish who is responsible for these wrongful acts,” Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu said in a statement.

Congo’s ambassador to Angola was summoned by Angolan authorities to be briefed on theissue, he said.

The dispute comes at a time of worsening relations between the government of Congolese President Joseph Kabila and its erstwhile ally to the south.

Two decades ago Angola stepped in to rescue Kabila’s father, then president Laurent Kabila, from a Rwandan-backed rebel assault.

Angola has become frustrated by Kabila junior’s handling of crises, including instability caused by his failure to step down when his mandate ended in late 2016 and a conflict in Congo’s Kasai province that sent thousands of refugees over the border.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said about 28,000 Congolese were “brutally” expelled in violation of an agreement on freedom of movement.

Angolan Police Commissioner Antonio Bernardo dismissed the accusations of violence and said the border agreement only allowed for visits up to 48 hours.

“Angola is a sovereign country,” he told Reuters. “The defence of sovereignty necessarily includes the safeguarding of national security and protection of its natural resources.”

He said Congolese migrants were residing in the country illegally and had received “selfless assistance” despite their status leaving of their own free will.

 

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