Martial law declared in Eastern Congo

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Kinshasa – As of yesterday, May 6, the state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has entered into force, proclaimed on May 3 by President Félix Tshisekedi.

In the order, the Head of State appointed a military governor and a deputy police governor who will assume the powers of the civil authorities for a period of 30 days. President Tshisekedi made this decision “after hearing the cries of anguish of our population and the pains felt by our mothers, by our sisters, by our daughters in these provinces devastated by barbarism”.

The east of the country has been ravaged by armed conflict for decades. The dramatic situation in eastern DRC has been the subject of a report prepared by the Association of Bishops’ Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) and the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), which sent a joint delegation to the area. The report was delivered on May 3 to the President of the National Assembly by Father Donatien N’Shole, National Secretary of CENCO.

“The member bishops of CENCO are committed to supporting state institutions for the well-being of the population. And Parliament is one of the great institutions that deserves the support of our fathers, the bishops, who, without being political, look after the same people for whom the deputies are responsible”, Fr. N’Shole told reporters.

“We can’t sleep until things change over there. We learned that a religious was killed there, he is a Muslim. Tomorrow it will be a Catholic, a Protestant … So we are all worried”, said the National Secretary of CENCO, referring to the murder of Cheikh Ali Amin, president of the Islamic community and head of worship in the city of Beni, a Muslim religious who preached peace and reconciliation.

Fr. N’Shole then praised the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry appointed by the National Assembly on the situation in the East: “We are pleased with the impetus given by the President of the National Assembly, to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the eastern part of the country”, underlining that “already before that, ACEAC and CENCO had launched a mission of encouragement and solidarity in this area”. Some armed groups active in the Lubero and Walikale territories (North Kivu) have announced their willingness to abandon the armed struggle and work for peace and stability in the province, said on May 6 the coordinator of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process of the community (DDRC) in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Jacques Katembo, according to whom the President’s decision to proclaim a state of siege was welcomed by the majority of the population.