Escalating Protests in Kinshasa: Demands for Action Against Rwanda Amidst Regional Conflic

Kinshasa, February 9, 2024- The protests against Western countries have escalated, particularly outside the embassies of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Demonstrators are voicing their demands loudly, calling for decisive actions against the alleged backers of regional conflicts.

On this day, two groups of protesters made their presence felt in Kinshasa: one stationed outside the French embassy and another in front of the UK embassy. Their primary demand is for these countries to take a firm stance against Rwanda, which is accused of supporting the M23 rebel group in North Kivu Province. The United Nations experts’ reports have implicated Rwanda in aiding the M23 rebels, an accusation that is echoed by Western nations.
The discontent among the Congolese population was also visible on February 7, 2024, when several young Congolese demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa. They protested against the United States’ perceived support for the Kigali regime, which they believe is exacerbating the M23 conflict in the eastern part of the country. Additionally, a group of Congolese in Ottawa, Canada, staged a protest earlier in the week, accusing the U.S. of backing Rwanda.

In response to the growing unrest and the spread of misinformation regarding the U.S.’s position on the conflict in Eastern DRC, the U.S. Ambassador to Kinshasa, Lucy Tamlyn, took to social media on February 6, 2024, to clarify America’s stance. Ambassador Tamlyn emphasized the United States’ commitment to a strong, stable, and peaceful DRC, underlining the condemnation of the M23 group, which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2013. She highlighted the U.S.’s support through $1 billion annually in various programs aimed at bolstering education, economic development, public health, environmental preservation, and life-saving humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, the French government has expressed its concern over the escalating violence in Eastern DRC and its dire humanitarian consequences. Christophe Lemoine, Deputy Spokesperson for the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, reiterated France’s alarm over the intensification of conflicts around Goma and the severe impact on civilian populations. France firmly condemns the ongoing offensives by the M23 and attacks against the MONUSCO forces. The French government believes in the urgent need to revive regional diplomatic processes, including the implementation of a new ceasefire, and supports efforts towards dialogue and de-escalation.