Christian Mwando, a representative from the province of Tanganyika, a territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and bordering Zambia, has called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to resolve a dispute regarding the occupation of southern Tanganyika by Zambian troops.
Zambian forces have been present in the area since late March, the result of an altercation that began with an attempted arrest of Congolese fishermen who were using prohibited gill netting. Congolese police from Moliro, a town right across the Zambian border, attempted to apprehend the fishermen, who managed to escape into Zambian waters. Zambian forces then moved to chase out the Congolese from their territorial waters and continued across the border, seizing a flag of the DRC, according to Mwando.
This region of the DRC also faces one of the world’s largest refugee crises.
In response, Congolese forces fired on the Zambian troops, killing one. Mwando was quoted by La Libre Belgique as saying he does not desire any “war with our sister republic of Zambia”, but fears Zambia’s presence is an attempt to seize a portion of the territory, which has the world’s largest deposit of hard rock lithium, used in batteries for electric vehicles.
This region of the DRC also faces one of the world’s largest refugee crises, impacting Twa and Bantu ethnic groups in particular. Persistent violence and insecurity in the region has stretched thin the DRC’s capacity to manage the conflict, let alone address the presence of foreign troops, which is why Mwando insists that President Félix Tshisekedi’s administration appeal to international bodies like the AU and SADC.