Eastern DRC worsening politically and militarily

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Both the United Nations (UN) Secretary General and Namibian President Hage Geingob are outspoken about an escalation of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and what is termed “the worsening political and military situation” in that part of the sprawling, conflict ridden, central African country.

Geingob, in his capacity as chair of the regional bloc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, called for peace and appealed for calm with as further call for an immediate ceasefire and for armed groups, including the March 23 Movement (M23) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to disarm.

Antonio Guterres is said to be “deeply concerned” by increased fighting between DRC government troops and M23 rebels in the eastern part of the country. Over the past 10 days “multiple civilians were killed” along with four MONUSCO peacekeepers and saw “a massive displacement” of Congolese.

The latest M23 advance saw the rebels reportedly seize two towns, consolidating gains since its resurgence last year, after commanders – many of who joined FARDC (Forces Armées de la Republique Democratique du Congo) – accused government of failing to honour a demobilisation agreement.

Two UN peacekeepers were injured by mortar fire and two others by small arms during attacks by M23 on reportedly captured town Kiwanja in North Kivu, while carrying out their protection mandate.

“MONUSCO recalls attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes and will spare no effort to prosecute those responsible in national and/or international courts”, said a mission statement adding it “condemned M23’s hostile actions” and to “immediately cease all belligerence”.

Guterres said the UN, through his Special Representative Bintou Keita, also MONUSCO head, would continue supporting the Congolese government and people in efforts to return peace and stability to eastern DRC.