Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb 19 – The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government came under pressure on Sunday to stem violence after the emergence of a video purporting to show soldiers massacring unarmed civilians.
“It is up to the authorities at all levels, provincial and national, to find a solution,” Ibrahim Ikulu, a lawmaker from the ruling majority bloc, told AFP as politicians decried the upsurge in unrest.
“The solution to this problem is political, not military,” said opposition lawmaker Corneille Masuasua, who criticised how the military appeared to have taken matters into its own hands.
“It’s very dangerous to depend on the military,” Masuasua added.
Saturday saw a confused government response to the discovery of a seven-minute video showing some 50 to 100 people killed in clashes between government forces and supporters of a slain tribal chief in the southern Kasai-Central region.
Although government spokesman Lambert Mende condemned the video as a “ridiculous montage… worthy of scenes from a Rambo movie,” a later statement noted possible “excesses and abuse” by soldiers, two of whom it said were already on trial for unspecified charges.
The region where the clashes occurred has been beset by violence since a tribal chief, Kamwina Nsapu, was killed by government forces in mid-August.
Opposition lawmaker Claudel Lubaya insisted Sunday that “the government is responsible for this mindless violence.”
He added that Kinshasa had made “an error of judgement in killing Kamwina Nsapu, causing the region to boil over.”
After viewing the video Lubaya said he held the government “fully responsible for these acts of barbarism” against people “whose only crime was to reject the ruling regime.”
Nsapu had personified widespread popular resentment in the troubled region against central government and provincial authorities, whom they blamed for appointing pro-regime officials to powerful local posts in place of traditional figureheads.
A further source of resentment was the summary burial of Nsapu without respecting customs in a region where locals regard him as still living.