May 16, 2021

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Congo requires notification of foreign diplomats’ travel after ambush

2 min read

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has required foreign diplomats to inform it of their movements outside the capital Kinshasa following the killing of the Italian ambassador.

Ambassador Luca Attanasio, his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci and World Food Programme driver Mustapha Milambo were killed by armed men on Monday while travelling in a WFP convoy in the east of the country.

President Felix Tshisekedi met his top security advisors on Tuesday to discuss responses to the attack.

“Ambassadors and other heads of missions can no longer leave Kinshasa for the interior of the country without informing the head of Congolese diplomacy and the competent services,” his office said late on Tuesday.

It also said a commitment was made to strengthening security in high-risk zones.

Two foreign diplomats, who asked not to be named, said the notification requirement may violate the Vienna Convention, an international treaty governing diplomatic relations between states.

One called the response “an inappropriate solution posed to a badly assessed problem”, especially since segments of the Congolese security forces have ties to criminal networks, as documented in U.N. reports.

Attanasio and Iacovacci’s bodies were flown to Rome on Tuesday, while Milambo was buried in the eastern Congo city of Goma.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the Italians would be given state funerals and he had asked WFP and the United Nations to provide a detailed report on the attack. The U.N. said on Tuesday it would conduct an investigation.

Inspectors from the Carabinieri military police have been dispatched to Goma by the prosecutors’ office for an initial mission, Di Maio told parliament on Wednesday.

“I understand that other missions will follow,” he said.

Congo’s interior ministry has blamed a Rwandan Hutu militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attack.

The FDLR, one of over 100 armed groups operating in eastern Congo’s borderlands with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, denied responsibility for what it called a “cowardly assassination”.

Reporting by Hereward Holland in Goma and Benoit Nyemba in Kinshasa; Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Rome; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Giles Elgood

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