Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC, Congo Evaluate Cooperation

The authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC and Congo Brazzaville yesterday, June 3, 2014, agreed on the way forward in implementing the Defence and Security Accord between the two neighbouring countries.

The meeting of the DRC-Congo Joint Commission that began in the DRC capital on Monday, June 2, 2014, was prompted by the expulsion of almost 140,000 DRC nationals from Congo Brazzaville in the last two months for allegedly not having papers. After the mutual accusations of who erred and what went wrong, the two sides agreed that it was time to normalise relations and move ahead.

Congo's Interior Minister, Raymond Mbandou, had earlier insisted that only 'criminals' were concerned by the expulsions, and that only 1,900 people officially deported. He explained that the remaining 138,000 returned home on their own for fear of not having the right papers. On the other hand, the Democratic Republic of Congo's Interior Minister, Richard Muyej, said his country was taken unaware by the deportations, alleging that the whole operation was carried out 'brutally' and in "unacceptable conditions." He accused Brazzaville of violating the terms of the 1999 agreement on free movement between the DRC, Congo Brazzaville and Angola.

According to Richard Muyej, some 136,804 DRC nationals have been expelled from Congo Brazzaville since last April through Ngobila Beach, Maluku Port and other entry points into Bandundu, Bas-Congo and Équateur provinces. Late last month, the United Nations urged the Republic of Congo to immediately halt the expulsions of citizens from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The UN mission in DRC, MONUSCO, said it received reports of physical abuse, cruel treatment and sexual violence inflicted on people as they were forced back into their country.

UN officials called on the two countries to ensure that administrative and security officials "act in full compliance with the principles of good neighbourliness and preserve peace and international security in conformity with the UN Charter." "While the conditions for people to stay in a foreign country are part of the sovereign responsibility of the host country," the statement said, "deportations should be made in strict compliance with the principles and rules of international law."

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