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A 'real investigation' into DRC violence is needed

Mark Caldwell
February 21, 2017

A number of killings have taken place recently in the DR Congo (DRC), including one allegedly perpetrated by military personnel. Nick Elebe says that it is necessary to have a real response to real issues.

Military of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS/D. Honl

A video surfaced on social media recently purportedly showing members of the Congolese army opening fire and killing unarmed civilians in the central Kasai region. Government officials have rejected international calls to investigate the video. In an unrelated incident in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 25 Hutus were killed by a rival ethnic group over the weekend.

Nick Elebe is the Democratic Republic of Congo country manager at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa based in DRC and he told DW that the government needs to address these killings directly.

DW: The government initially dismissed the video as fake but later referred to "excesses" and said that two soldiers, including an officer, were already facing military justice. What do you make of this rather confused response by the government?

Nick Elebe: The video of the shooting has been done by someone taking part in the operation but there simply is no way to authenticate this video. I also listened to the spokesperson of the government try to explain that the video was a montage done by an opponent, which I don't think is the right way to go. The important thing for now is to have a real investigation into what exactly happened in Kasai.

Karte Massaker in Nord-Kivo englisch
North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of The Congo

What can you tell us about the killing of Hutu civilians reported over the weekend in the east of the DRC. Has ethnic tensions in the region been getting worse recently?

I think the ongoing situation in Beni, Butenbo, in North Kivu is a long story. And again, there is no investigation being taken by the Congolese authorities. There is a lot ofd talk about the situation over there and about the responsibilities that are shared between the different actors. But there is no initiative to all hold those who committed this accountable.

What impact will this violence have on efforts to set up a transitional regime in the DRC?

I think this is one of the reasons why it is important now to have real response to real problems. Maybe your question should be "what will be the impact of all this violence on the electoral process itself." And clearly, this violence will have an impact. One of these impacts might be on the capacity of voters to go and register, because the voter role to register is ongoing. Number two will be, what will be the role of these militias on trying to influence voters.

Interview: Mark Caldwell