GOMA – Two cities in eastern DR Congo were ‘paralysed’ earlier in the week, according to local sources – as the first day of protests over continued massacres of civilians, which the army and UN peacekeepers have failed to stop.
Pressure groups including Veranda Mutshanga and Fight for Change – Lucha called at the weekend for people to halt their normal routines for 10 days in the Beni region and Butembo in the east of the sprawling DR Congo.
Directed at the UN’s MONUSCO peacekeeping mission and the national army, the strikes aim to “confront them with their responsibility over the massacres,” said Lucha activist Clovis Mutsuva in a statement.
Sylvain Kanyamanda – the mayor of regional economic nucleus, Butembo, said; “young people from Lucha demonstrated outside the MONUSCO office… Economic operators haven’t been able to work. Schools are closed, it’s paralysing the city.”
Kahindo Mbusa, president of the Butembo chapter of the Congo Drivers’ Association – ACCO, said; “we respected the call to strike because we drivers are the ones the attackers kill first when there’s an ambush.”
According to eye witnesses, barricades were set-up ‘along the Beni-Butembo road, and the service stations weren’t working.’
Witnesses revealed further that the Kasindi road leading to the Ugandan border, an important route for goods and agricultural produce, was almost deserted by Monday. In the city of Beni, shops and schools were closed.
Almost 300 youth took part in a dangerous impromptu search across 45 kilometres (28 miles) of bush territory on Friday, looking for Allied Democratic Forces – ADF militants.
The ADF historically is a Ugandan Islamist group believed by experts from the Kivu Security Tracker to be behind the killings of 1,842 civilians since April 2017.
It is the bloodiest of scores of armed militias that roam eastern DR Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars in the 1990s.
The United States said earlier this month that the ADF is also linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.