Congo will replace civilian authorities with military administrations in two conflict-hit provinces for a month, the government said on Monday, announcing the details of a state of siege to address worsening bloodshed in the east.
A surge in attacks by armed militias and intercommunal violence along Congo’s border with Uganda have killed hundreds of people since the start of the year.
Under the state of siege, which was declared last Friday, governors and provincial assemblies in North Kivu and Ituri provinces will be suspended for 30 days from Thursday, government spokesman Kasongo Mwema Yamba said in a statement read on the state broadcaster.
In their place, the government will install military governors and police vice-governors with wide-ranging powers, he said.
“They have powers to conduct day and night searches, to ban publications, to ban the movement of people,” Mwema said.
Violence has remained endemic in eastern Congo since the official end of the civil war in 2003, but insecurity has soared in the past two years.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group active in eastern Congo since the 1990s, is believed to be responsible for much of the recent bloodshed.
It has carried out reprisal attacks on civilians since the army began operations against it in late 2019, killing about 850 people last year, according to United Nations figures.
The unrest has fuelled a humanitarian crisis, with more than 1.6 million people displaced in Ituri out of a total population of 5.7 million, UNICEF said in April.
Militarising the rule of law will not get rid of armed groups, said Dino Mahtani of International Crisis Group.
“The national army has always been the biggest source of armaments for armed groups in Congo. What’s really needed is a demobilisation plan and political deals to discourage support to armed groups,” Mahtani said.