University students Monday marched in the DR Congo city of Goma in a demonstration to express their support for the the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) which is fighting rebel group in the eastern part of the country.
The demonstrating students also protested against the presence of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) and accused them of being ineffective in the war between the M23 rebels and FARDC. This is the fourth time in less than a month that civilians in North Kivu have expressed their rejection of the EACRF.
Despite a ban on the march by the city's governor and the mayor of Goma, the students still took to the streets to convey their rejection of EACRF. The DRC national police force had no option but to disperse the demonstrators, who for a while had camped in front of the governor's residence in Goma.
The protests against the EACRF continue even as more East African troops from Uganda and South Sudan are expected to be deployed, as recommended by the February 4 heads of state and chiefs of staff summit held in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Call for immediate ceasefire
This new deployment was also recommended by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is a facilitator of the Nairobi Process in the search for peace in the DRC. The heads of state demanded an immediate ceasefire by the fighting parties. However, on the ground, the fighting has not abated.
According to local sources, the DRC army has been shelling M23 positions for several days.
“The FARDC is determined to put an end to the armed struggle. We are going to send the enemy back to where he came from,” said Lt ColKaiko Ndjike, the spokesman for the governor of North Kivu.
The fighting has led to the migration of people who have begun to flee en masse to the city of Goma, currently unaffected by the fighting. In addition, its surroundings such as the town of Sake have also experienced panic and massive movements of people who fear possible fighting.
Clashes are currently taking place in Masisi territory, North Kivu.
According to the M23 rebels, the DRC army is "bombing the heavily populated areas under M23 control by the use of helicopter gunships, fighter jets, battle tanks and heavy artillery".