DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi has replaced all the civilian authorities of North Kivu (some 1,600 km east of Kinshasa) and Ituri (1,800 km from Kinshasa) with the military and police for 30 days over insecurity in the region.
"To deal with the situation of insecurity in the two provinces, the civil courts and tribunals will transfer their jurisdiction to military courts during the period of the state of siege," the president’s order said.
The head of state believes that "the current situation in Ituri and North Kivu constitutes a threat to the integrity of the DRC and the recurring cycle of violence requires exceptional measures".
The decision made on Monday night means that all civilian administrations, including governors and their deputies, in the part of the country will hand over their duties to security agencies under what is known as a ‘State of siege’, usually different from a state of emergency in that it has less restrictions.
The state of siege was decreed for the province of North Kivu and that of Ituri on April 30, 2021. According to Kasongo Mwema Yamba Yamba, Tshisekedi's spokesperson, the president decreed the state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri "in accordance with article 85 of the Constitution.”
It provides that "the president proclaims a state of emergency or state of siege when serious circumstances threaten, in an immediate way, the independence or integrity of the national territory, or that they provoke the interruption of the regular functioning of the institutions ".
This period could be extended by parliament for period of 15 days, he said.
President Tshisekedi has been promising radical measures to eradicate insecurity in the eastern part of the DRC.
Several people, including children and students, vigorously demonstrated last week in North Kivu, to demand the departure of Monusco (the UN army) and the presence of the president in Beni, in North Kivu.
North Kivu and Ituri are regularly the scene of bloody attacks, attacks attributed to armed groups and terrorist movements.
According to the High Commissioner for Refugees, since January 2021, attacks attributed to the armed group, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), of Ugandan origin, “have already caused the death of nearly 200 people, injured dozens more and displaced an estimated 40,000 people within Beni territory, North Kivu province, as well as neighbouring villages within Ituri province. Attacks and widespread human rights violations also continue in other areas of North Kivu province.”
“In less than three months, the ADF armed group carried out attacks on 25 villages, torched dozens of houses and kidnapped more than 70 people. These figures add to the 465 Congolese massacred in attacks attributed to the ADF armed group in 2020," says the High Commissioner for Refugees.
According to Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees, in 2020, armed groups killed nearly 1,800 civilians in Ituri and North Kivu.