Clashes Intensify in Eastern DRC as Nation Awaits Final Election Outcome

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Clashes have intensified between the powerful M23 rebels and the army in parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as Congolese await the results of the December 20th general elections.

In the aftermath of the elections, M23 rebels resumed attacks on the positions of self-defence resistance fighters and the Congolese army near the town of Sake in the eastern province of North Kivu.

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Locals say the attacks have been happening in the hills around the village of Mushaki, which rebels seized recently, and the village of Karuba, both of them in an area called the Masisi territory.

Ombeni Balingene, a resident of Sake, criticized the conditions in which people like him have been spending the Christmas season.

“Since December 20, after the elections, clashes have started in the Mushaki mountains, from where people are fleeing and arriving in large numbers here in Sake,” Balingene said. “We didn’t have a very good Christmas, because we thought every second that the M23 rebels were going to enter the town, as there was the crackling of bullets and the explosion of bombs in large numbers.”

In a statement read by Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Njike Kaiko, an army spokesman in North Kivu, the military threatened to take action against the rebels and the Rwandan army, which the DRC accuses of supporting the rebels.

Kaiko said the rebels attack positions held by the loyalist army and reservists every day, ignoring the cease-fire recommended by the international community. He claimed that Rwandan troops continue to enter Congolese territory, disrupting the cease-fire process.

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Rwanda denies the accusation.

New displacements of civilians have been reported since last week as a result of these clashes, and Masisi territory human rights defender Tumusifu Bazungu called on the government to find solutions to the humanitarian situation facing the internally displaced, as aid workers are unable to respond normally to the needs of the displaced.

Masisi and another area, Rutshuru, were excluded from the electoral process because of the security situation in the eastern part of Congo. Like Mushaki, Rutshuru is in the hands of the M23 rebels.


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