13 July 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: Another 38 Probable Mass Graves Found - UN

Another 38 probable mass graves have been found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence between troops and armed fighters has killed thousands of people since August, the United Nations announced on Wednesday.

This means at least 80 mass graves have been identified so far, the UN peacekeeping mission in the vast Central African nation said.

The latest mass graves were found this month in the Diboko and Sumbula areas of Kamonia territory by an investigative team from the local UN human rights office and the DRC's military justice authorities, the UN said.

The international community has expressed alarm over the violence in the once-calm Kasai provinces region. Some diplomats have suggested that the tensions are also tied to DRC's presidential election that has been delayed since last year.

The Kasai crisis was sparked by the government's refusal to grant official status to Jean-Pierre Mpandi, known as Kamuina Nsapu, as one of the region's traditional chiefs.

Mpandi then mobilised his armed group in an uprising against the state's presence in the area. After he was killed during fighting in August 2016, the violence escalated.

More than 3,000 people have been killed, nearly 1.3 million displaced and about 30,000 have fled to neighbouring Angola, according to the Catholic Church and the UN.

The government has accused the Kamuina Nsapu armed group of dumping bodies into mass graves. But UN investigators believe many of the mass graves contain the remains of suspected Kamuina Nsapu members or supporters.

On Tuesday, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix expressed serious concern to the UN Security Council that violence in the Kasai provinces "has reached very disturbing levels".

The DRC's government now points to the violence as the reason for further election delays. The country's UN ambassador, Ignace Gata Mavita, has said voter registration has not yet begun in two provinces - Kasai and Kasai Central - as a result of the fighting. Registration is scheduled to begin July 20, he said.

President Joseph Kabila's mandate ended in December, and after deadly protests the government and opposition reached a December 31 agreement that calls for the vote by the end of this year - without Kabila as a candidate.

The head of the electoral commission, however, now says that timeframe won't be possible.

Congo-Kinshasa

We Demand an End to Arbitrary Detentions of Activists Committed to Social Justice

Congolese youth activists Jean Marie Kalonji and Sylva Mbikayi from the youth movement Quatrieme Voie/II Est Temps (The… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Al Jazeera. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.