Congo-Kinshasa: Africa/D.r. Congo - State of Emergency in the East - Doubts and Perplexities of Academics and Representatives of Civil Society

A vital bridge in Ituri province (file photo).

Kinshasa — Doubts and perplexities have been expressed by representatives of civil society on the application of the state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which entered into force on May 6 (see Fides, 7/5/2021). "So far parliament has not yet passed any law regulating the application of the state of siege and the state of emergency, as recommended by the Constitution. This law should specify, for example, how to manage personal freedoms during the state of emergency and the state of siege", said Fr. Télesphore Malonga, professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University of Graben and president of the civil society of Butembo, stating his concern for the absence of a law that specifies how to apply the state of siege, as required by article 85 of the Constitution.

The order of May 3 with which President Félix Tshisekedi launched the state of emergency provides for the replacement of the civil authorities of the two provinces by a military governor and a police deputy governor for a period of 30 days. But the military and security apparatus itself is not exempt from criticism, ineffectiveness and even complicity with the armed groups that wreak havoc in the two provinces. "Even within the army there is a malfunction that hinders its professionalism and effectiveness", said Professor Chober Agenonga, an expert in military sociology and lecturer at the University of Kisangani. "These are, for example, the insufficiency of logistics and military equipment, the misappropriation of funds destined to pay the salaries of the soldiers at the front, the existence of parallel chains of command and the complicity with certain armed groups". In the social sphere - continues the professor - the same complicity is sometimes observed between militiamen and members of their communities". "There is also the question of the lack of attention given to young people, which facilitates their enrollment in armed groups. These are all issues that explain, quite clearly, the fact that the state of siege will not be able to provide lasting solutions to the problem of insecurity", adds Professor Agenonga. According to the academic, in order to resolve the crisis in the east of the country, it is necessary to restructure the army by providing it with a unitary and professional chain of command and sufficient resources managed transparently to avoid embezzlement of money by officers and the transfer of weapons and ammunition to armed groups; strengthen the trust and collaboration between the civilian population and the security forces, because no war can be won without the trust and collaboration of the population; accelerate the Disarmament, Demobilization and Social Reintegration (DDRS) program reserved for members of armed groups who are willing to lay down their arms; rebuild the areas affected by violence, with the creation of jobs for young people; strengthen the authority of the State; re-establish inter-community cohesion, broken by the instrumentalization of the tribal militias responsible for the massacres of members of other communities.

More From: Agenzia Fides

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