DR Congo : Gov’t Solicits Ex-Militia Leaders For Peace

For several months the Ituri mineral rich Province has witnessed an unprecedented spike in the number of killings and kidnappings.

Authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo have dispatched a high level delegation to the Province of Ituri where fighting has been going on between government soldiers and rebels of the Codeco. The decision was reached last Saturday, June 4, 2020 after eleven people, including the deputy administrator of Djugu territory and the accountant of Aru territory, were killed in an ambush by alleged Codeco militiamen.

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To curb the incessant wave of violence, government has taken three very important measures. The strengthening of military presence in several areas, the involvement of the national and local authorities in raising awareness among the population and militiamen, and the sending of a delegation made up notably of former militia chiefs to Bunia with a mission order signed by the interim Director of Cabinet of Félix Tshisekedi. Among the delegation is Germain Katanga, former commander of the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Force (FRPI). Sentenced six years ago by the International Criminal Court (ICC), he was released from prison last March. There is also Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, former commander-in-chief of the Front of Nationalist Integrationists (FNI) and former leader of the FRPI.

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Their mission according to media reports is to convince the combatants of the Codeco militia to lay down their arms, organize their identification and speed up the process of their possible surrender and put an end to hostilities. Though their task will not be easy, given that they will first have to convince these militiamen whose organizational structure and demands are not well known, it is hoped that their stay will be fruitful given that instructions to hold direct negotiations with them are from the highest hierarchy in the country. Besides Djugu, they will also visit the territories of Mahagi and Irumu.

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The situation in this Province also worries international jurisdictions. At the beginning of June, the International Criminal Court pointed to "acts of murder, mutilation, systematic looting" perpetrated in this part of the country and added that they "could constitute crimes within its jurisdiction". It should be noted that prior to the sending of this delegation, President Felix Tshisekedi had in April held several consultative talks with some of the stakeholders with the most prominent being the representatives of Lendu and Hema communities led respectively by Floribert Nzebu and Thomas Lubanga.

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