Cars displaying diplomatic or UN plates are stoned or set on fire.
— Steve Wembi (@wembi_steve) February 12, 2024
Since last Friday, certain “protesters” have been targeting “foreign” cars, fitted with diplomatic plates or bearing the United Nations logo, which circulate on the roads of the Congolese capital.
The United Nations, and more particularly the MONUSCO mission, are regularly targeted in the east of the country. The demonstrators consider that these UN agents whose mission has been present for more than 20 years in the DRC are incapable of silencing the weapons and, some also regularly accuse them of being complicit in the acts perpetrated by the militias in the provinces of Kivu and Ituri.
For several days, a new narrative, to use the fashionable word among Congolese power communicators, has emerged. In addition to the United Nations, more Western countries would be responsible for the war in the east or would take advantage of the stagnation of the conflict to take control of the riches of the Congolese subsoil. Among these countries, France, caught up in Kinshasa by all the anti-French communication circulating on the social networks of the Sahel countries extensively followed by the Congolese. But the United States and the United Kingdom are also singled out.
“ All these criticisms are childish and would be a laughing matter if there was not a real danger for the international community. The power of President Tshisekedi does not control the situation, he is overwhelmed by the movements he initiated”, explains a resident of Kinshasa.
“ Anything with a diplomatic plaque is targeted. A Norwegian embassy vehicle was seen being targeted. The windshield blew out, a side window too. The diplomat managed to escape,” explains a witness to the scene which took place during the weekend.
A vehicle from the Ivory Coast embassy was also targeted on Saturday February 10. The embassy published a press release for its nationals in the DRC to call on them to be cautious and ask them not to go out the next day, the day of the final of the African Cup of Nations between their country (DRC striker) and Nigeria, dressed in Ivorian colors.
During the night from Sunday to Monday, a call for caution circulated on social networks. Warning Westerners against possible violent demonstrations against them this Monday.
”Drivers were asked to stay at home”explains an expatriate who works for an international structure. “We will do a lot of teleworking and we will only travel if absolutely necessary”he continues.
Moments later, images of the Memling Hotel appeared on social media. An emblematic place that belonged to Sabena, the entrance to the hotel is surrounded by demonstrators who watch one of them lower the European and Belgian colors located above the main door.
“ It did not take long for Mr. Tshisekedi’s power to forget those who were the first to congratulate him on his victory, however dubious it was.continues a Kinshasa resident who insists “on the inaction of the authorities in the face of these demonstrations. This Saturday, we could see police officers close to certain scenes of violence but they never intervened”.
An ad minimum communication from power condemned the acts of violence and recalled that embassies and diplomatic property were protected by immunity. Nothing more. Which is surprising when we remember that for daring to demonstrate peacefully in front of the Congolese Parliament, 7 activists were arrested by the police a week earlier. Two of them, Fred Bauma and Bienvenu Matumo, were even held for 72 hours and suffered degrading treatment.
“ These demonstrators were wrong to highlight the fact that the town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border has been in the hands of the M23 for 600 days. Unacceptable for those in power who only want to hear their version of the facts and display, with spots dedicated to the speeches of the Minister of Communication and the generals of Kinshasa, victories of the Congolese army on the eastern front. Verbal victories which are never reflected on the real maps of the region where we are forced to note the continuous advance of the rebels,” continues a Kin Congolese, disappointed by the behavior of those in power.