| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Thousands of Congolese churchgoers join nationwide marches against eastern violence

On Sunday, tens of thousands of Christians demonstrated against the bloodshed in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with church leaders accusing the world community of being hypocritical in light of Rwanda’s alleged involvement in the conflict.

Churchgoers responded to a call from the Catholic bishops’ conference to protest the fighting with the M23 rebel group, which Congo accuses Rwanda of aiding, after Sunday services in the capital Kinshasa and other major cities.

“We say no to war, no to a divided Congo,” said Blaise Emmanuel, vicar at St. Elizabeth’s parish, who with other priests led a procession in Montgafula, one of the poorest communes in Kinshasa.

The mass protests were the most significant since an escalation in fighting in recent months between state forces and M23. The violence has displaced an estimated 390,000 people, according to U.N. agency OCHA.

Demonstrators in Kinshasa sang and carried banners reading: “No to balkanization, no to the hypocrisy of the international community. The DRC is not for sale.”

Many in Congo have for years accused the West of failing to hold Rwanda to account for its alleged role in stoking insecurity in the east.

The European parliament in late November called on Rwanda not to support the M23 rebels. But last week the European Commission was criticized in Congo for a decision to give 20 million euros ($21 million) to support Rwandan troops helping fight Islamist insurgents in Mozambique.

  • Reuters