Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo loyal to renegade
army General Laurent Nkunda are accusing the United Nations Mission (MONUC) of
backing the national army. Peacekeepers attacked the National
Congress for the Defense of People (CNDP) rebel group with helicopter gunships
Monday to protect civilians after the rebels surged near the provincial capital,
Goma. This comes after
angry protesters pelted four UN compounds with stones, claiming MONUC failed to
protect them from the advancing rebels.
Kahora is a journalist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from North
Kivu's restive provincial capital Goma that the current situation is tense
after peacekeepers fired warning shots into the crowd of angry protesters.
is supporting the governmental forces in the situation of casualties in the
military, guys who are wounded. And according to the rebels, MONUC is no longer
neutral, contending that it should not support one side and leave the other
side. And as you know, the rebels are also accusing the FRDC (the national
army) of fighting on the side of the FDLR (Forces Democratiques
de Liberation du Rwanda), that is the
Rwandan militia, as well as accusing MONUC of backing the FDLR," Kahora noted.
said the rebels claim they have no choice but to attack MONUC and the national
on Monday evening, the spokesman for the rebels spoke with reporters telling
them that they don't know who they are going to attack because there is a
confusion between the FRDC, the FDLR and the MONUC and that they (rebels) have
no choice. They have to fight all of them," he said.
said residents are expressing their frustration of the failure of the UN
mission to protect them against the clashes between the rebels and the
Congolese national army.
local people are very angry when they heard that clashes are still going on and
that the rebels are taking over villages upon villages and seeing the IDP's
(internally displaced persons) coming into Goma. They are very angry and saying
that it was unacceptable since MONUC has got important equipment that could
fight the rebels so that they can be expelled from the different villages where
they have taken over. So due to the tensed situation the demonstrators were
very, very angry with the MONUC troops after shooting on the demonstrators.
Therefore, the whole day, there was no activity in town. Shops were closed and
the situation has been tense since afternoon," Kahora pointed out.
Nkunda's forces, which
comprise mostly ethnic Tutsis, refused to integrate with the government forces
and have been controlling much of the Kivu area. The dissident general is said
to have the backing of Rwanda's Tutsi-dominated government. Kahora says the
residents are also complaining that suspected foreigners attacking villages.
are two reasons for this fact because the military officials as well as
politicians collected some evidence of the involvement of Rwanda, such as the
military cloth and some other items that they attributed to the Rwanda forces.
But also the statement of some politicians, because recently the special envoy
of President Paul Kagame met some senators and said MONUC is also on the side
of the FDLR and Intarhamwe as well as the FRDC," he said.
People in eastern Congo are furious that the U.N. peacekeeping mission —
the biggest in the world with 17,000 troops — has been unable to protect them
from a rebel force that says it is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsis. Residents
opposed to rebels, including Hutus and those who lived in camps after fleeing
earlier conflicts, feel particularly threatened. Kahora says Congolese are upset about the deplorable humanitarian
situation in particular.
officials are saying there are between one million and a million and half of
IDPS who have no assistance because of the current situation, which is
prevailing on the ground. You have to understand that the situation is very
critical and the numbers of IDPS are not ending. Every day, we are recording
more and more internally displaced people," Kahora noted.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of civilians have reportedly abandoned
their homes. Women and children lay down on
roadsides made muddy by tropical downpours, stretching out to spend the night.
Some had mats or plastic sheets; others simply dropped, exhausted, to the