Congo used rebels against anti-Kabila protesters: HRW

 05 Dec 2017 - 12:19

Congo used rebels against anti-Kabila protesters: HRW

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ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo: Authorities in the DR Congo hired rebel fighters to suppress civilians who protested against President Joseph Kabila, according to a Human Rights Watch report issued on Monday.

The report said senior security force officers in the DRC had mobilized over 200 former M23 rebel fighters from neighboring countries to quash protests against President Joseph Kabila in December 2016.

"Congolese security forces along with recruited M23 fighters from Uganda and Rwanda killed at least 62 people and arrested hundreds more during country-wide protests between December 19 and 22, when Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit," said the report.

Ida Sawyer, the HRW Central Africa director said in the report: “Covert operations to recruit fighters from an abusive armed group to suppress any resistance show how far President Kabila and his coterie are willing to go to stay in power. Congolese officials should end all unlawful use of force against protesters and allow peaceful political activities by activists and the political opposition." 

An official from the ruling presidential majority in DRC, Paul Kili, told Anadolu Agency that the allegations were false and were meant to tarnish Kabila. The presidential majority consists of an alliance of political parties that support the president.

M23 militants made themselves known on March 23, 2012 when certain soldiers in the DRC rebelled against the government. UN investigators have accused Rwanda of backing the M23.

Although Kabila's term of office expired in Dec. 2016, he refused to leave office saying elections could not take place because most voters had not been registered. 

This has sparked of protests in several parts of the country, in which according to Catholic church in the country, 3,000 have been killed and over 1.3 million displaced.