The Malawi Defence Force has dismissed reports that its contingent with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) has begun withdrawing from their positions in Mambasa, about 180 km to Bunia at the borders with Uganda and South Sudan in Ituri province.
An article contained in one of the online publications HumAngle Media said this follows a demand from youths who claimed that the Malawian soldiers have been exploiting that country’s resources rather than focusing on their primary duty of peace keeping.
It indicated that following demonstrations by youths calling for their departure which started on May 12 and extended to 14th May where several persons were wounded, members of the Malawian delegations have started leaving.
But in an interview with Kulinji.com spokesperson for the MDF Major Emmanuel Mlelemba said the institution has not received any report to that effect.
“However, it’s worth pointing out that we deploy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) with consent from the Host Nation (HN) which is DRC and our task is to carry out targeted offensive operations to neutralize Illegal Armed Groups in our Area of Responsibility considered a threat to state authority and civilian security.
“In this case, we are discharging our duties in the DRC in accordance with our mandate which does not include exploitation of minerals as alleged,” said the publicist.
The publication further indicated that the youths were protesting the presence of Malawian troops in their region and wanted them out.
Jean Tobi Okala, Public Information Officer of MONUSCO, said “these manifestations resemble the handiwork of the enemy”.
The zone affected has recently seen a resurgence of violence and the most recent incident of violence took place last Tuesday when three persons were killed and nine vehicles burnt during an ADF attack on Kundala Kundala, a village situated six kilometres from Lolwa on the national highway number four between Komanda and Mambassa centre.