The installation of a new President for the Congolese Community in Nigeria should have been an occasion for merrymaking and celebration, but it was not. The Congolese Diaspora in Nigeria (Communauté Congolaise de la Diaspora du Nigéria) could not help but reflect on the war back home that has raged for years.
Antoinette Bilongo, the new President of the Congolese Community of the Nigerian Diaspora described the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as being fueled by the conflicting interests in the mineral-rich country, adding that all interest groups should embrace peace now to avoid more bloodshed.
“We need to tell ourselves the truth that the West does not mean well, not only for DR Congo, but the entire African continent. It is high time they leave us alone to manage the human and natural resources we have. DR Congo wants peace, Africa wants peace,” she said.
The war initially spilled into eastern DRC in 1996, after different ethnic groups fleeing the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide started fighting each other in their new country of refugee.
Since then, different ethnic tensions have sparked fresh hostilities every so often. Matters have been made worse, as rebel force leaders in some cases and even commanders in the DRC army get backing from mining companies to fight for control in the exploitation of natural resources such as timber, gold, coltan, diamonds, wolfram, and cobalt.
A weak government in the Congolese capital Kishansha, forays into eastern DRC by neighbours such as Rwanda and Uganda, and the presence of minerals has made ending the war difficult.
Intervention by institutions such as the United Nations which has had a peace keeping force in Eastern DRC since November 1999 and interventions from neighbours that have included Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and recently Kenya have yet to lead to a resolution of the war.
However, Ms. Bilongo says that if the different interest groups in the DRC can give up on their misplaced priorities, the war can end.
While appreciating the Congolese Community in Nigeria for choosing her to replace Dr. Kanu Viya, whose term as President expired recently, Bilongo said the investiture ceremony would be incomplete, if the Congolese residing in Nigeria failed to use the occasion to reflect on the unfortunate situation currently going on in the eastern Congo.
The DRC Ambassador to Nigeria, Pascaline Gerengbo Yakiv brought a goodwill message from President Felix Tshisekedi, who has already submitted his candidacy for a second term in office.
Despite, President Tshisekedi’s failure to resolve the conflict in the DRC, that has since attracted a fresh set of peace keeping forces from East African neighbours Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan, and Kenya, he and his supporters feel bullish on winning the coming election.
The East African force was deployed to help subdue M23, a rebel group reportedly backed by Rwanda that keeps remerging to take territory in DRC. As he heads into the next election, President Tshisekedi’s one success has been to unite majority of the people in Eastern DRC against Rwanda.
The Presidential election scheduled for December 20, this year, has also attracted opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, believed to have been the real winner of the 2019 election that brought Tshisekedi to power.
Other candidates include Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist who in 2018 won the Nobel Prize for his work treating and providing witness to women raped in the Eastern DRC wars.
On the Presidential Election coming up in the DR Congo in December this year, Ambassador Yakiv disclosed that President Tshiekedi is seriously working towards returning as president, adding that there are lots of good things that the incumbent president is doing that need continuity.
“We want our president to return, and I believe the support and prayers of the Congolese residing in Nigeria would go a long way in achieving this, even as we are all looking for peace to return to the eastern Congo very soon,” she said.
Former president of the Congolese Community of the Nigerian Diaspora, Dr. Kanu Viya commended the support the community has been receiving from the Embassy of the DR Congo in Nigeria. He called for support for the new executive led by Madam Bilongo.
The president of the League of Pastors of French-speaking churches in Lagos, Pastor Daniel Kalombo called on the Congolese not to relent in praying for the DR Congo, adding that the people should seek God all the time so that the troubles back home in the eastern Congo would be a thing of the past very soon.
Recognition awards were given to different sets of people including Ambassador Yakiv, Pastor Kalombo and a host of others working with the Congolese Community in Nigeria.