According to an international correspondent in the city, tens of thousands protested on Monday in Goma, the economic center of eastern DR Congo, against what they believed to be inactivity by an East African armed force against the M23 rebel uprising.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta had to gather the rebel groups and the DRC delegation in Qatar for continued talks. However, he pulled out after his security was scaled down by President William Ruto.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua said that the meeting did not happen as expected. CS Mutua said it was aborted because the DRC delegation was unavailable; Uhuru called them busybodies while the real leaders were missing in action.
Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta pulled out of the DRC conflict meeting in Qatar after the government reduced his delegation and scaled down security.
The M23, which is led by Tutsis, has recently moved closer to Goma and its one million people, taking large areas of land in the North Kivu region.
The seven East African Community (EAC) countries gave the DRC government permission to set up a military force to help fight the rebels. The first soldiers arrived in Goma last November.
But when M23 forces began their march, many Congolese had their early dreams dashed.
To oppose the EAC force, protesters set up roadblocks around Goma on Monday. Some of the protesters even looted stores and set tires on fire.
Sankara Bin Kartumwa of the activist organization Lucha stated, “The regional force of the EAC came to fight, but that is not what we see.”
In an effort to ease concerns, the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima, went to the crowds personally. Demonstrators asked him why the EAC force and MONUSCO forces from the UN mission in the DRC were involved.
“We share the same issue; do you get it?” However, I beg you not to blockade the road. In a conversation that an AFP reporter saw, Ndima informed one protester.
At a conference held on Saturday in Burundi, the EAC leadership demanded an abrupt end to hostilities in eastern DRC.
Later, the Congolese government said that the EAC’s military force had challenges but emphasized that it was mandated to carry out aggressive missions.
MONUSCO is often criticized for failing to put an end to the war.
The mineral-rich eastern parts of the DRC have been home to dozens of rebel factions for generations; many of them are the result of conflicts that erupted in the 1990s and the early 2000s.
Aggression against citizens and government personnel has been widespread. Reports said that unknown rebels murdered a park ranger on Monday in North Kivu’s renowned Virunga National Park.
Late in 2021, the M23 came out of hibernation and said that the DRC had broken a promise to incorporate its troops into the army.
It has gone on to triumph against other rebel factions and the Congolese military. The rebels took control of Kitchanga, a vital town west of Goma, last month