DRC: Grim Discoveries Follow Intercommunal Violence in Tshopo

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It remains grim around the outskirts of the Lubunga commune near Kisangani in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Lifeless bodies have been discovered since the easing of the tension between Mbole and Lengola ethnic groups at the end of May.

Eleven skeletons were uncovered on Sunday, July 7th, more than 20 kilometers from Kisangani, on the left bank of the Congo River. This violent conflict eruption came in May 2023 over a land dispute between these two communities.

It’s a sad habit that has been formed—the discovery of bodies, says Baudouin Kayongo, the mayor of Lubunga commune, as slowly, area residents come back home after fleeing the violence.

“‘The death toll is estimated to be of about 700, not including the newly discovered remains such as these skeletons, which have not yet been counted. Nobody could perform burials because everyone was afraid due to the conflict,” he explained.

It was derived from the sale of agricultural land to a Lebanese company known as Cap Congo. The sale was made by the community of Lengola, which the community of Mbole, owners of the sold land, strongly disagreed with.

Provincial authorities in Tshopo would then be undertaking peace talks for long-term resolution. Civil society leaders say that at the same time, there has to be justice for the victims, if the reconciliation between the two communities is to succeed.

“Judicial accountability is essential. We have to know who did what and who is responsible for which acts. Those found guilty must be condemned by the justice system because human life is sacred. That’s what authorities have to make sure of,” deplores Prince Heritier Isomela, president of the association Sauti Ya Lubanga, meaning “The Voice of Lubanga” in Swahili.

The heavy military deployment in Lubunga has kept the area calm since the beginning of May, though some routes that farmers use remain out of bounds.

Soukaina Sghir

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