Political tensions in DR Congo’s neighbours are spilling over into South Kivu region, says Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the French diplomat heading the UN’s peacekeeping operations.
Lacroix, in South Kivu since September 3, met Provincial Governor Théo Ngwabidje Kasi and senior officials of UN’s Congo mission (MONUSCO). He also travelled to Kalehe zone about 70km north of the provincial capital Bukavu.
Since the beginning of the year, Kalehe, Fizi and Uvira territories in South Kivu have been battlegrounds involving alleged Rwanda rebels called “P5” led by ex-Rwandan army chief Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Another gtoup FLN, which attacked inside Rwanda several times via Nyungwe forest national park, is said to have been trekking from South Kivu. According to court testimony by Nsabimana Callixte aka Major Sankara, the captured FLN spokesman, the attackers were given safe passage by Burundi.
The UN Group of Experts on DRC confirmed in its midterm report to the UN Security Council dated December 31, 2018 that P5 and FLN were getting recruits and money from Uganda and Burundi.
Lacroix, the peacekeeping chief whose troops have become onlookers to a complicated geopolitical conflict unravelling in South Kivu, said in interview with Radio Okapi that there is need to renew regional cooperation to be able to pacify South Kivu.
According to him, the region is “affected by tensions in neighbouring countries”.
He added: “I have travelled to Kalehe territory which has experienced numerous security problems. We intend to tour other zones….to evaluate how quickly state authority can return to those regions, especially the presence of [Congolese army]”.
Lacroix is in Congo as part of visit of the UN Secretary General António Guterres.
Bukavu borders directly with Rusizi district in Rwanda, and South Kivu also shares long border with Burundi.