UN chief, DRC president discuss UN troops exit

KINSHASA— The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, have held talks on calls by Congolese that UN troops should exit eastern Congo.

According to Congolese officials, Tshisekedi and Guterres held a telephone conversation following recent clashes between UN troops and Congolese civilians, who have mounted protests demanding the exit of UN troops from DRC.

“The Head of State had a telephone conversation this afternoon (Wednesday) with Guterres, the secretary general of the UN. The two men discussed the situation of blue helmets in eastern DRC, particularly the recent altercations with the population,” DRC Government officials said in a statement.

“Taking advantage of this exchange, the secretary general of UN expressed his condolences to the President of the Republic, to the bereaved families and the entire Congolese population,” officials added in their statement.

Tshisekedi and Guterres telephone talks have come against the backdrop of recent altercations between UN blue helmets under the United Nation Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and the population, which worsened last week with the killing of four UN soldiers and over 30 civilians in eastern Congo.

“It all started with the shooting that occurred on July 31 at the Kasindi border post, where the blue helmets, returning from leave, opened fire, causing the death of civilians and serious injuries,” Congolese officials said.

The altercations have also sparked off demonstrations in the city of Beni, with people demanding for the immediate exit of MONUSCO.

Guterres said he was “outraged by the serious incident that occurred” in Kasindi border point between Uganda and DRC.

On August 1, Tshisekedi chaired a security meeting, which the DRC spokesperson and Minister for Information, Patrick Muyaya, said re-assessed the MONUSCO withdrawal plan as agreed under the UN Security Council resolution 2556.

The UN resolution gave MONUSCO up to December this year to drawdown.

According to Patrick Muyaya, the official death toll arising from the anti-MONUSCO demonstrations following the Kasindi border point shooting has risen to 36, while 170 people have been rushed to hospital with injuries.

“In its report, the special commission led by the deputy Prime Minister gave a human toll of 36 dead distributed as follows: 13 in Goma, 13 in Butembo, including four blue helmets (UN troops), four in Uvira, three in Kanyabayonga and three in Kasindi,” Muyaya said.

Muyaya added that during the telephone conversation with the UN secretary general, the DRC President expressed “his total disapproval of the behavior of the blue helmets at the root of these incidents and the need to ensure that the culprits are severely punished.”

Tshisekedi also told Guterres that the withdrawal of the M23 rebels from all localities in eastern Congo should be enforced in accordance with the Nairobi communique’ by the East African Community Heads of State, the Luanda peace talks between DRC and Rwanda roadmap and the June 1, 2022 declaration of the UN Security Council.

On June 20 this year, EAC leaders approved the deployment of joint troops to pacify eastern Congo during the 3rd Conclave meeting on the DRC crisis in Nairobi.

Under the Nairobi Conclave, EAC leaders agreed to create a joint force to crackdown armed rebel groups operating in eastern Congo that refuse to surrender, unconditionally disarm and participate in dialogue processes.

In 2021, Uganda deployed troops in eastern Congo, on the invitation of DRC, to fight Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in eastern Congo.

Eastern Congo is a haven to over 100-armed rebel groups, including the ADF, Red Tabara, Mayi-Mayi, M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), CODECO, FOREBU, among others.

Source: Nam News Network