DRC capital quiet after opposition calls for protests

2017-04-10 15:16
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Kinshasa  - The streets of Kinshasa were almost empty on Monday after the Congolese government warned it would break up any rallies staged by the country's main opposition to President Joseph Kabila.

Few vehicles were moving on the usually bustling streets of the capital and many stores were shuttered, AFP reporters saw.

Private buses were also off the streets, leaving only public-run buses in service, many of them crammed.

Police and military presence was discreet, although a high-profile deployment of about 60 military police and anti-riot police was seen at a major intersection near Kinshasa University.

The main opposition, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), had called for supporters to rally in major cities across the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday.

But police late on Sunday warned that all political demonstrations on Monday would be banned and "any gathering of more than 10 people will be dispersed".

One of Africa's least developed countries, the sprawling, mineral-rich nation of 71 million has been mired in crisis since 2011, when Kabila was re-elected president despite accusations of massive fraud.

His most prominent foe, veteran UDPS chief Etienne Tshisekedi, dismissed the official results of the vote and declared himself the duly elected head of state.

Tshisekedi's death last February 1 while in Belgium for medical treatment, aged 84, robbed the opposition of a key figurehead as implementation of a power-sharing deal faltered.

Tensions flared in December when Kabila stayed in office after his second and final term officially ended. He has been in power since 2001, when his father Laurent was assassinated.

On New Year's Eve, pro-government and opposition groups agreed to a deal brokered by the influential Roman Catholic Church that sought to avert a full-fledged crisis.

The agreement would allow Kabila, 45, to remain in office until elections in late 2017, ruling in tandem with a transitional watchdog and a new premier chosen from within the opposition ranks.

On Friday, Kabila named a UDPS dissident, Bruno Tshibala, as prime minister.

Tshibala had been excluded from the UDPS for contesting a push by Tshisekedi's son, Felix, to take over the party helm after his father's death in February.

The party on Saturday lashed Tshibala's appointment as "a reward for betrayal."

Read more on:    joseph ­kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

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