Source: Voice of America
The military spokesman for the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) says a joint military offensive with the national army in Walikale and Masisi territories has freed over 20 villages from rebels from the Mai Cheka and the Alliance for the Sovereign and Patriotic Congo (APCLH) groups.
Colonel Felix Basse says residents are expressing their appreciation.
“This is a huge relief for the populations that live in the area because they have been under pressure, they have been under indiscriminate violence from these armed groups operating in that area,” said Basse. “Now, progressively, the Congolese forces backed by the UN forces are restoring the state authority in these areas. This is in line with MONUSCO’s concept of Islands of stability.”
Basse says MONUSCO aims to neutralize all armed groups in order to restore the authority of the government in Kinshasa in rebel-controlled areas.
He says the Mai Mai Cheka controlled various mining areas in Walikale, while Janvier Kaheribi, a rebel warlord who heads the APCLH, controlled territories in Masisi.
“MONUSCO has decided to clear the access going from Pofi to Kashebere, along the Walikale road that leads to Goma because for a long time it was controlled by these Mai Mai groups,” said Basse. “The Congolese forces are controlling all the [areas] of Hihama and Utunda plus the mining area of Angoa, which was some kind of stronghold for Mai Mai Cheka elements.”
Basse says the successful military offensives have boosted efforts to protect unarmed civilians, which he says forms part of MONUSCO’s mandate.
“We are committed to working closely and with very strong cooperation with the Congolese forces in order to neutralize all these armed groups that are causing [mayhem] against the population. So this is the aim of the operation to neutralize Mai Mai Cheka and the Mai Mai from the APCLH in that area,” said Basse.
He says MONUSCO is supporting the government with logistical and technical expertise as the administration implements its policy to disarm armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Basse hailed the government’s move to ensure stability and the protection of civilians in parts of the country affected by conflict.
“This is fully backed by MONUSCO in order to facilitate a peaceful surrender of these Rwandan rebels who have been living in the east of DRC for 20 years since the genocide of 1994,” said Basse.