iexclusivenews – The streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), have been filled with smoke, anger, and violence in recent days, as protesters vented their frustration at Western governments.
The protesters blame the West for not doing enough to stop a rebel group that is wreaking havoc in the eastern part of the country, where millions of people are displaced and in need of humanitarian aid.
The Root of the Conflict: The M23 Rebels
The rebel group, known as the M23, is composed of former soldiers who defected from the Congolese army in 2012, claiming that they were fighting for the rights of the Tutsi minority in the region.
The Tutsis have a history of being marginalized and oppressed by the majority ethnic groups in DR Congo, especially during the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were killed by Hutu extremists.
However, the M23 rebels have been accused of committing atrocities against civilians, such as rape, murder, and looting, as they seek to expand their territory and influence in the mineral-rich east.
They have also clashed with the Congolese army and the UN peacekeeping force, known as MONUSCO, which has been deployed in the country since 1999 to help restore stability and security.
Meanwhile, the rebels have denied any wrongdoing and have said that they are willing to negotiate with the government, but only if their demands are met.
These include the full implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2009, which granted them amnesty and integration into the army, as well as the recognition of their political and social rights.
The Role of Rwanda: A Controversial Ally
One of the main sources of contention in the conflict is the alleged involvement of Rwanda, a small but influential country that shares a border with DR Congo.
Rwanda has been accused by the UN and other countries of providing military and financial support to the M23 rebels, as well as allowing them to recruit and train fighters on its soil.
Rwanda has a strong interest in the eastern DR Congo, where it has access to lucrative minerals and natural resources, as well as a large population of Tutsis who fled there during the genocide.
Rwanda has vehemently denied any links to the M23 rebels and has accused the international community of scapegoating it for the failures of the Congolese government and the UN.
Rwanda has also argued that it has a legitimate security concern in the region, as it faces threats from other armed groups, such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which is composed of Hutu extremists who participated in the genocide and have been operating in DR Congo for decades.
Rwanda has been a close ally of the West, especially the US and the UK, which have praised it for its economic and social development, as well as its contribution to peacekeeping missions in Africa.
However, the allegations of its involvement in the DR Congo conflict have strained its relations with some of its donors and partners, who have suspended or reduced their aid and imposed sanctions on some of its officials.
The Reaction of the West: A Passive Stance
The protesters in Kinshasa have expressed their dissatisfaction with the response of the Western governments to the crisis in the east.
They have accused them of being indifferent, hypocritical, and complicit in the suffering of the Congolese people.
They have demanded that they use their leverage over Rwanda to pressure it to stop supporting the M23 rebels and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of DR Congo.
The protesters have also called for more support and solidarity from the West, in terms of humanitarian assistance, diplomatic mediation, and military intervention.
They have urged the West to strengthen the mandate and capacity of the UN peacekeeping force, which has been criticized for being ineffective and passive in the face of the rebel attacks.
The Western governments have condemned the violence and human rights violations in the east and have called for a peaceful and political solution to the conflict.
They have also expressed their support for the efforts of the African Union and the regional blocs, such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), to facilitate dialogue and cooperation among the parties involved.
However, the Western governments have been reluctant to take a more active and decisive role in the crisis, citing the complexity and sensitivity of the situation, as well as the risk of further destabilizing the region.
They have also been wary of antagonizing Rwanda, which they consider a key partner and ally in the continent.
The Impact of the Protests: A Rising Tension
The protests in Kinshasa have added another layer of tension and uncertainty to the already volatile and fragile situation in DR Congo.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed response from the security forces, who have used tear gas, batons, and live ammunition to disperse the crowds.
Several people have been injured and arrested, and some have reportedly been killed.
The protests have also disrupted the normal functioning of the city, as many businesses, schools, and public services have been closed or affected.
The protesters have targeted symbols and institutions of the West, such as flags, embassies, and shops, and have threatened to escalate their actions if their demands are not met.
The Western governments and the UN have expressed their concern over the safety and security of their citizens and staff in DR Congo, and have advised them to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary travel.
They have also appealed to the Congolese authorities to respect the right of the people to peaceful protest and to refrain from using excessive force.
The Congolese government has assured the Western diplomats and the UN officials that it will protect them and their properties, and has urged the protesters to respect the law and order.
The government has also reiterated its commitment to finding a lasting solution to the conflict in the east, and has called for the cooperation and support of the international community.