The spokesman for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) says his group is “profoundly concerned” about increasing attacks by armed groups in eastern Congo.
Alexander Essome said MONUSCO has stepped up efforts to prevent future violence in North Kivu province.
“In the last two months, we have had more than 25 attacks. In many instances, people’s [homes were] looted and monies stolen. So, we are obliged to increase many of our patrols in those areas so that we can then live up to the spirit of the mandate of the Security Council that requires us to protect the population in those areas,” said Essome.
His comments came after Leonard Mashako Mamba, Congo’s minister of university and higher education, reportedly escaped an attack by an armed group in the north Kivu town of Rutshuru. His driver and his body guard were killed.
The increasing violence comes as Congo is compiling a voter list for the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for November 28.
“We have to stamp out these sudden attacks from these armed groups in the area,” he said, “because eventually they will prevent the local population from coming out and registering to vote and by so doing, keep away people who can have a voice in [Congo’s] democratic process.”
Julien Paluku Kahongya, governor of North Kivu, has relocated his entire provincial government to Rutshuru from Goma, following the assaults from the armed groups, Essome said.
Both the government and MONUSCO blame rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attacks in the North Kivu province.
The DRC’s government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with MONUSCO for it to provide support to the electoral commission organizing the vote.
Essome said MONUSCO is hopeful more Congolese will participate in the DRC’s fledgling democracy.