DR Congo: Goma residents angry over the extension of MOUNSCO’s mandate

There was anger and disappointment in Goma on Wednesday after the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to extend the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo known as MONUSCO.

The force was the target of deadly summertime protests by Congolese who said armed groups were still roaming the country’s east and they were not being protected.

Peacekeepers were also accused of retaliating against demonstrators, sometimes with force.

Kasereka Alutani and his two brothers remember their march against MONUSCO in July 2022.

“Renewing this mandate is like renewing the pain we felt because we walked peacefully and there were deaths, even others are still in prison,” he said.

“I don’t see how MONUSCO can have another mandate when it hasn’t done anything. It’s been 22 years, there’s no protection,” said Georges Yalala.

After the anti-UN protests, President Felix Tshisekedi called a meeting to reassess MONUSCO’s presence.

The government called for a review of the transition plan for MONUSCO, and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula later mentioned 2024 as the goal for the force’s withdrawal.

The resolution extending the UN peacekeeping force until December 20, 2023, strongly condemns all domestic and foreign armed groups operating in the country and demands they immediately cease all violence and destabilizing actions “and the illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources.”

Activist Jack Sizahera said the government had “bowed” to the international community and the situation in Congo was worse now than when MONUSCO had arrived in 2000.

The UN also voted on Tuesday to lift a notification requirement on some arms purchases which Lutundula recently called “unjustified and humiliating.”

The separate resolutions were approved amid worsening security in Congo’s mineral-rich east, a region rife with rebel groups and an upsurge in violence and civilian killings that has uprooted tens of thousands of its inhabitants.