Thousands of women on Friday poured onto the streets of Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa to protest against the M23 rebels in the biggest against the rebels’ capture of the eastern Congo city of Goma on Tuesday.
Coming from all walks of life, the women took to the streets to denounce the M23 rebels, and the failure of the Congolese army and United Nations peacekeepers to stop the rebels’ advance.
The women held signs denouncing the M23 rebellion as a “Rwandan and Ugandan aggression.” With some chanting “MONUSCO should go, they don’t do their job”. MONUSCO is the United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo
A UN Group of Experts report released on Wednesday said that Rwanda and Uganda “cooperated to support the creation and expansion of the political branch of M23 and have consistently advocated on behalf of the rebels.” The report said that Rwanda’s Defense Minister James Kabarebe is the de facto commander of the M23.
The protesters asked for MONUSCO’s mandate to be strengthened. They said they would camp at its headquarters until their concerns had been addressed.
Women have borne the brunt of armed groups’ exactions in DR Congo for more than a decade. They, better than anyone else, know how horrific it is like to leave under rebels’ control.
Meanwhile, Presidents from the great lakes region are meeting in Kampala today over the crisis in the eastern DR Congo with media reports going round about the presence of M23’s leader Sultan Makenga.
At least 10 presidents are expected to attend the meeting to be chaired by President Museveni at the Commonwealth Resort Hotel in Munyonyo.
Presidents Museveni, Kabila and Kagame met earlier in the week and called on the M23 rebels to withdraw from Goma, a call the rebels have since rejected.
The U.S early this week called on Uganda and Rwanda to use their “influence on M23” and end the hostilities.