in Mikenge, communities accuse each other of supporting armed groups

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In the highlands of Minembwe, there are thousands of displaced refugees near the UN mission in Congo and without international assistance. There are almost 3,000 in Mikenge, mostly Banyamulenge, and they say they have suffered many attacks.

With our special correspondent in Mikenge, Sonia Rolley

In Mikenge, the displaced say they have been attacked twenty times and know their attackers. Philemon Chiza, one of their representatives, tells of the latest attack in July. “I’ll show you where they came from. Mai-Mai came from there, from this mountain, by this path. They went into the camp and fired. Monusco tried to defend. Soldiers were wounded. The man said he knew these Mai-Mai: “Yes, they are people from here, from this village. The boy who lost his life here, his father is still here. “

In nearby villages inhabited by rival Banyamulenge communities, people deny being part of Mayi-Mayi groups. Rather, a young Mufulero accuses the displaced of having protected Banyamulenge rebels or even of having weapons. “It’s in the little cabins that are there.” How did he know the guns were there? “We saw them when the FARDC gathered the weapons.”

The different communities continue to frequent the same market in Mikenge. Banyamulenge is escorted to the village by the FARDC. Nearly 3,000 displaced Banyamulenge are still refugees near the MONUSCO base in Mikenge. They rely on the FARDC and the UN for their safety.

Who is Colonel Makanika?

In the highlands of Minembwe, there is a new face that is much talked about. This is Colonel Michel Rukunda, aka Makanika, a deserter from the Congolese army who now controls part of the armed groups of Banyamulenge. His presence was reported nearly twenty kilometers from Mikenge IDP camp.

Until January 2020, Banyamulenge had to defend them Gumino, an armed group that had opposed, among other things, the Rwandophone uprising from the M23 and Twirwaneho, self-defense militias. Above all, Colonel Makanika seems to have returned to the highlands to regain control of Twirwaneho, who until now had fought to protect their parents and their flocks.

Colonel Makanika is a former member of the AFDL, the uprising of Laurent Désiré Kabila, but he is one of the Banyamulenge officers who turned against the Rwandan godfather and who wanted to expel them from the territory. He is also one of the founders of Gumino, a group he no longer seems to have contact with today. Makanika’s supporters claim that he not only protects Banyamulenge, but also Bafulero. Opinions.

We were attacked by an armed group led by Makanika. He commits massacres, he kills, he rapes, he commits a lot of violence.

Colonel Makanika, formerly of the FARDC, revolted

The Minister of Decentralization was consulted by the National Assembly.

In question the installation of Minembwe municipality in late September, which has been controversial since. MPs accused Azarias Ruberwa of using his position to advance the interests of his community, Banyamulenge, Rwandophone Tutsis poorly perceived by other communities in South Kivu, in an area with several armed groups. He insisted that he had come at the request of his colleague from the defense and that it was the interior minister and not he who had installed this municipality like others, even though this decision had been suspended since by President Tshisekedi.

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