DRC: Anti-Monusco demonstration and mass violence

By Bernardin SEBAHIRE

Researcher at CERPRU/ISDR-Bukavu

The acts of violence recorded in DR Congo in July 2022 are an eloquent illustration of the frustrations accumulated by the Congolese populations of the East over the past two decades. Indeed, on July 25, 2022, the populations of the cities of Goma, Butembo and Uvira organized demonstrations hostile to the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Congo.

This violence occurs in a difficult socio-political context. On the political level, the authorities are considering the organization of presidential elections for the year 2023. On the social side, the youth unemployment rate is only increasing; strikes by state officials have become frequent; the road infrastructure is in an advanced state of disrepair; the prices on the market increase every day for lack of sufficient local production. Insecurity persists in the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu despite the state of emergency declared by the President of the Republic.

Faced with this lackluster picture, the Congolese population spoke out at the end of July 2022 by attacking Monusco facilities and civilian personnel. The media commented differently on this event: “The protest movement against the presence of MONUSCO in the DRC is gaining momentum, after the death of 15 people including 3 peacekeepers in Goma and Butembo in North Kivu on July 26. Four demonstrators died on Wednesday July 27 in Uvira, the second city of South Kivu. The tension is at its height between the peacekeepers of Monusco (Mission of the United Nations Organization for Stabilization in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and the civilians of North Kivu. Last week, Demonstrations calling for the departure of the United Nations took place in several towns in eastern DRC, including Goma, Butembo, Beni and Nyamilima. Monusco facilities on site were targeted. Thirty-six people, including four peacekeepers, were killed in clashes between the two sides”.

A book on relations between the population and Monusco

The Congolese writer Bienvenu N. Karhakubwa, in his book entitled RDC, construction of peace and the role of Monusco, published by Harmattan in 2021, wrote the following: “First, the Congolese population is sometimes aggressive towards MONUSCO out of ignorance of the mission, modus operandi or mandate of MONUSCO as a UN peacekeeping operation.

Secondly, the Congolese population is sometimes aggressive towards MONUSCO because of the absence of a peace plan or architecture in the DRC. To this end, the book opens a reflection by proposing a model of architecture for the construction of sustainable peace in the DRC.

Thirdly, the Congolese population is sometimes aggressive towards this UN Mission because of the low appreciation of its work by the local population, with regard to local expectations of peace and security, but also correlatively to human and financial received by MONUSCO.

Fourth, the Congolese population is sometimes aggressive towards MONUSCO because of its setbacks as a UN peacekeeping mission.

To this end, five setbacks are identified and documented in this book. First of all, there is the ideological implantation of Islam in the region (the examination of the question is more technical than ideological); then the phenomenon Children of MONUSCO, born of peacekeepers with Congolese girls and women; then the involvement of some blue helmet agents of the Mission in mining smuggling; also the maintenance of armed groups by certain agents and blue helmets of MONUSCO and finally the disproportionate treatment of Congolese agents working for MONUSCO. It opens a reflection on the correctional strategies of these various setbacks”.

This book is spread over three chapters, namely: the fundamentals of peacebuilding and UN peacekeeping missions, the work of MONUSCO (as perceived by the local population) and finally the setback for MONUSCO (as a UN peacekeeping mission).

If the Congolese authorities considered the results and orientations of the research carried out in different sectors at fair values, as is done elsewhere, the DRC would not be engulfed with each passing day and be the laughingstock of all.

Thus, this book analyzes the problem of the aggressiveness of the Congolese population towards MONUSCO and identifies the underlying factors, through the explanation of the fundamentals of peace building and peacekeeping missions. the peace ; the development of a model of an architecture for the construction of sustainable peace in the DRC (a standard tool that can well inspire the national strategy of transitional justice in the DRC); exchanges on the work of MONUSCO, that is to say on the activities that this Mission carries out in the area; finally, the analysis and documentation of the setbacks of MONUSCO which certainly tarnish its credibility with the local population.

The withdrawal plan of MONUSCO approved by the government

Regarding the subject that was at the origin of these demonstrations, namely the departure of MONUSCO, Khassim Diagne recalls that the process of the departure of the Mission from the DRC was discussed and the withdrawal plan was even approved by the Congolese government.

“I think there are three key points. The first is to reassure the population, our partners that we are on the way out. For that, we have a concrete departure plan approved with the authorities. Second, let’s not play the enemy’s game. It’s a distraction that can be very expensive. And thirdly, violence is not the solution” , recalled Khassim Diagne.

The Congolese government, for its part, says it wants better collaboration with MONUSCO. This is one of the lessons to be learned from these demonstrations, according to his spokesman, Patrick Muyaya. “The first lesson to be learned, I believe that we need to significantly improve whether it is in the political, operational or communication field, what we need to significantly improve collaboration with MONUSCO. Because it all started with the remarks that were made and which were not well received either by the soldiers, or by us, or by the population. And there was this reaction. The second consequence that must be drawn is that one must not resort to violence. When you resort to violence, you even risk losing the main cause ,” recommended Patrick Muyaya.