Protesters in the Democratic Republic of Congo set fire to U.S. and Belgian flags while targeting Western embassies and U.N. offices in the capital Kinshasa on Monday, expressing their frustration over insecurity in eastern Congo.
Police deployed tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, who burned tires and flags outside the embassies and U.N. facilities. The protesters accused the West of supporting neighboring Rwanda, which they believe backs the Tutsi-led M23 rebellion threatening the strategic city of Goma in the east.
Despite heightened security measures following attacks on U.N. staff and vehicles on Saturday, protesters gathered at several diplomatic missions and attempted to vandalize property. Some demonstrators hurled stones and chanted slogans demanding the departure of Western nations, accusing them of complicity in the unrest.
Pepin Mbindu, a protester, stated, “The Westerners are behind the looting of our country. Rwanda doesn’t work alone, so they must leave our country.” Meanwhile, Fabrice Malumba, a participant in the demonstration, criticized the international community’s silence on the violence in Congo, accusing them of financing Rwanda.
In response to the protests, Congo’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula, assured ambassadors and diplomatic mission heads of increased security measures to protect their representations in Kinshasa.
Kinshasa police chief General Blaise Mbula Kilimba Limba emphasized that security for partner embassies is being ensured in accordance with the Vienna Convention.
The unrest in eastern Congo has been fueled by decades of conflicts between rival armed groups vying for control over land and resources, resulting in widespread displacement and loss of life. Congo’s significance as the world’s top supplier of cobalt and Africa’s leading copper producer adds to the complexity of the situation.