Kinshasa – The Democratic Republic of Congo’s president has blamed failure to quell a militia in the east of the country on army incompetence or complicity with the group, state television reported on Friday.
Addressing an army seminar in the capital Kinshasa on Thursday, President Felix Tshisekedi said the scale of insecurity in the eastern province of Ituri was incommensurate with increased military funding.
“Either our army is incapable, or else these bandits from CODECO, a conglomeration of criminals, benefit from complicity within our armed forces,” national broadcaster RTNC reported him as saying.
“This is not acceptable,” the 58-year-old president added.
Nine army officers are currently on trial in Ituri for allegedly selling arms to CODECO, considered one of the deadliest militias operating in the east of the country.
A political-religious sect that has been blamed for many massacres, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.
The group is suspected of having committed an attack on a displaced person’s camp in Ituri on Monday, which killed 14 people including nine children.
Fighters from the militia were also accused of taking part in a raid on an Ituri gold mine on Sunday, which killed at least 35 people.
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The details of both attacks remain hazy, however.
Tshisekedi told senior army officers on Thursday that the government had never allocated so much money to the military, although he did not specify figures.
“I’m fed up that not a day goes by without us counting victims,” he said.
Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province have been governed by the security forces since May last year, in a bid to stem attacks. But civilian massacres have continued.
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