Some armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have announced their desire to abandon the armed struggle, the coordinator of the disarmament process said.
The announcement has come soon after President Felix Tshisekedi announced security measures including ordering military siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, bordering Uganda to contain armed groups.
During the state of siege, the provincial governments of Ituri and North Kivu will be led by the military governor, with the police chief as vice governor, according to the presidential order.
The UN-run Radio Okapi reported on Friday that some armed groups active in the territories of Lubero and Walikale in the North Kivu province have supported the president’s actions and sent feelers to switch over from armed struggle to work for peace and stability in the region.
Quoting Jacques Katembo, the coordinator of Disarmament, Demobilization and Community Reintegration (DDRC) commission in North and South Kivu, Radio Okapi reported that he has been receiving several phone calls, including those from the self-proclaimed Gen. Kabidon, one of the leaders of a coalition of local militias seeking peace.
“There is support from the population. There is even support from armed groups, which are ready to surrender. As I speak to you [Thursday], I have just received calls from these armed groups who already want to surrender from tomorrow, ” Katembo said.
Meanwhile, the Congolese police dispersed demonstrators who had placed barricades on the roadway to protest the state of siege in the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu province.
The new security measures have drawn criticism from the opposition.
Opposition leaders Martin Fayulu and Adolphe Muzito said they hoped that the state of siege was not a political maneuver.
The DRC has been plagued by violence for decades as several rebel groups fight with each other or against the country’s military and UN forces for territorial control.
According to the UN, exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict. It is said that most of the armed groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.
More than five million people have been uprooted by insecurity and violence in the DRC in the last two years, with nearly 2 million displaced in North Kivu Province alone, according to UN estimates.