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DRC: protests rage against M23 rebels as discontent against occidental powers rise

Young protesters in the Bukavu, DRC   -  
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MICHEL LUNANGA/AFP or licensors -

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The European Union flag was set on fire in the city of Bukavu in eastern DRC as hundreds of Congolese protested against the M23 rebels expressing their discontent with the involvement of great powers such as the United States, Great Britain and France.

Hundreds of citizens protested in the city of Bukavu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo against the M23 rebels that they accuse Rwanda and Uganda of supporting with the sponsorship of great powers like the United States and Great Britain.

The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi called Thursday evening "the youth" of his country to "organize themselves in groups of vigilance" in the face of the M23 rebellion which, he reaffirmed, benefits from "the support of Rwanda".

Rwanda has "expansionist ambitions, with its main interest in appropriating our minerals," he accused, in a message to the nation broadcast on national television.

"To do this, it is working to destabilize eastern Congo to create a lawless zone to satisfy its criminal appetites," continued the president of the DRC, deploring that the various diplomatic initiatives undertaken to ease tensions have not led to "any tangible result.

The eastern DRC has been plagued for nearly three decades by violence from armed groups, many of them inherited from wars that bloodied the region in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Tensions have been particularly high between Kinshasa and Kigali since the resurgence in late 2021 of the M23 ("March 23 Movement"), a former Tutsi rebellion that has taken up arms again, blaming Kinshasa for failing to respect agreements on the demobilization of its fighters.

Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of supporting this rebellion, which Kigali contests, accusing the DRC of collusion with a Hutu rebel movement based in Congo. "False accusation," hammered Felix Tshisekedi.

"The war imposed on us (...) requires sacrifice," he said, calling on his compatriots to "put aside (their) differences" to stand together. "The nation needs the commitment of all its daughters and sons," the president continued.

He also asked the Congolese "not to give in to xenophobic remarks and other speeches of hatred or stigmatization of Rwandophone communities.

However, "in response to the strong demand from the youth," he continued, "I invite them to organize themselves into vigilance groups to support, accompany and sustain our armed forces. He also "renewed" his call to young people who have the vocation "to enroll massively" in the army.

After several weeks of calm, the M23 rebellion has been on the offensive since October 20 in Rutshuru territory, in the province of North Kivu, where it has seized several localities on a strategic road leading to Goma, a major strategic city in the eastern DRC.

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