Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi has replaced all the civilian authorities in the provinces of North Kivu (some 1,600km east of Kinshasa) and Ituri (1,800km from Kinshasa) with military and police, the East African reports. The decision means that all civilian administrations, including governors and their deputies, in that part of the country will hand over their duties to security agencies under what is known as a ‘state of siege’, different from a state of emergency in that it has less restrictions.
Deutsche Welle reports that dozens of armed groups have operated in the two provinces for years, and civilians have been subjected to horrifying massacres. Armed militias and inter-communal violence have killed more than 300 people so far in 2021. It is the first time since the DRC’s independence that a president has used the “state of siege”. RFI reports that under DRC’s constitution, the president can declare either a state of emergency or a state of siege “if severe circumstances immediately threaten the independence or integrity of the national territory, or if they interrupt the regular functioning of institutions”.