Two officials from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) are in custody in connection to the shooting to death of protestors demonstrating against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in Goma City, North Kivu province. The protests took place on August 30, 2023, across areas including Kyeshero, Ndosho, Himbi, Katoyi, and Kasika in the Nyabushongo district.
Organized by locals under the umbrella group “Wazalendo,” led by Pastor Efraim Bisimwa of the “Natural Judaic and Messianic Faith Towards the Nations,” the protests resulted in 43 deaths, including a police officer, 56 injuries, and the arrest of 168 individuals, according to the Congolese Ministry of Communication and Media. During the protests, roads were violently blocked with stones, and MONUSCO bases were stormed by angry demonstrators who accused the peacekeepers of failing to address insecurity in Eastern DR Congo.
The protestors also accused the peacekeepers of not taking action against the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels, who initiated conflict against the DR Congo government in March 2022 and controlled various positions in Rutshuru, Masisi, and Nyiragongo territories. The fatal shootings prompted condemnations from the United Nations Human Rights Office and the March 23 Movement.
The rebel group, active since 2022, called for an independent inquiry by the international community into the incident. DR Congo President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo released a statement strongly condemning the military’s actions. He said a delegation of high-ranking government officials was dispatched to Goma to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, and severe sanctions were promised against those responsible.
In a statement issued in the early hours of Monday morning, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Security, and Customary Affairs, Peter Kazadi Kankonde, announced the arrest of FARDC officials. Colonel Mike Mikombe, Commander of the Republican Guard department, and Commander Donat Bawili of the 19th Regiment in Goma are among those detained.
“Following these instructions and in accordance with the order of the supreme commander, I announce to you that certain military officials were immediately presented to the auditorium. They are the Commander of the Joint Brigade GR and the Commander of the 19th Regiment. are currently detained,” Kazadi says in a statement. A total of 143 protestors, including Bisimwa, are currently being tried by the Garrison Military Court.
They face charges of criminal conspiracy and participation in an insurrectional movement. Meanwhile, tension remains high in Goma city, as locals took to barricading roads with stones and even destroying a square erected at a roundabout bearing the name of Constant Ndima, the military governor of North Kivu province.