Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has opened a three-day peace conference in Congo’s Kasai region where thousands have died following ongoing fighting between government troops and militias, AP reported on Wednesday.
Kabila declared at the opening of the conference on Tuesday in Kananga that justice had to be served but blamed the violence on “terrorist militia” and warned that all who were involved in the violence would have to answer for their crimes.
The violence in the volatile Kasai region began in August 2016 following the death of militia leader Kamwina Nsapu at the hand of Congolese troops.
As the fighting flared, more than 3,300 people were killed and according to the UN more than 1.4 million displaced.
Meanwhile, registering to vote began last week with Congo’s electoral commission reporting a delay in registering for the polls in Kasai.
This means that the repeatedly delayed presidential elections won’t be taking place this year despite an agreement reached between the government and the opposition to hold an election at the end of the year.
The repeated delays are feeding into opposition accusations that Kabila keeps delaying the vote in order to stay in power despite his mandate ending last December.
This also means further political tensions in the Kasai region, which is a stronghold of opposition to Kabila, despite the launching of the peace process there.
The UN reports that there are approximately 80 mass graves in the area and that Congolese military elements were responsible for at least half of them despite Kinshasa blaming the mass graves on the Kamwina Nsapu militia.
The UN human rights office has warned of ethnic cleansing in the region and urged Congo's government to prevent further violence.
- African News Agency (ANA)