Uganda border closed as protests rock DRC towns

Wednesday December 4 2019

Affected.  Trucks of goods parked at the

Affected. Trucks of goods parked at the Uganda-DR Congo Mpondwe border in Kasese District yesterday. PHOTO BY JOEL KAGUTA 

By Joel Kaguta, Risdel Kasasira & Francis Mugerwa

Business at the Uganda-DR Congo border of Mpondwe-Lhubiriha has been paralysed following protests by Congolese business people over the latest deadly attacks by Allied Democratic Forces’ rebels.
The Congolese traders in Kasindi Town, which borders Uganda’s Mpondwe Town, have closed their shops in solidarity with their colleagues in Beni Town, eastern Congo, who are protesting against the “UN failure to protect” them against rebel attacks.

Most of the traders who buy Ugandan goods have not crossed the Ugandan border since Saturday.
On Sunday, the Congolese army spokesperson Richard Kasonga said the government troops had killed a top ADF rebel commander Mouhamed Islam Mukubwa in North Kivu in the Beni region.

“Congolese soldiers killed Mouhamed Mukubwa-- one of the top leaders of the Allied Democratic Forces [ADF] group during fighting on Friday in Mapobu [forest],” he tweeted.
The spokesperson of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Mr Mathias Gillmann, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the situation was calmer.
“There were indeed protests yesterday [Monday] but today the situation seems to be calmer,” he said.

Mr Gillmann said talks were still ongoing with the DR Congo military leadership and “we remain to support as much as possible within our mandate given to us by the [UN] Security Council”
He said MONUSCO cannot comment on the killing of the ADF commander. “This was announced by the FARDC. We wouldn’t comment on it at this stage,” he said.
On the Ugandan side, Franco Richard, a Ugandan trader said they feel unsafe to cross to Butembo for fear of being attacked by the rebels.
Another trader John Tumuhimbise said those who risked and crossed the border were travelling by foot because their vehicles had been blocked by the Congolese protesters.

At least 27 people were killed by the rebels on Wednesday in Beni, bringing the number of deaths to 107 since November 5.
The Kasese Resident District Commissioner, Lt Joe Walusimbi, said: “When I heard about the incident on Friday, I rushed to the border and we held a meeting with the immigration department to see how the situation would be contained in case they [rebels] crossed to our side.” On Monday, four people were killed in Beni by the army as protesters again demanded the UN withdrawal from the town.
This is the second wave of protests in a week in Beni Town which has become the epicentre of the killings by ADF rebels.
However, Lt Walusimbi who chairs the Kasese District security committee, assured the residents of safety.
“For us, we are on standby. There is no cause for alarm, I want to assure Ugandans that we have a normal and a calm situation in the entire district,” Mr Walusimbi said.