DRC crisis: Widespread unrest feared as talks stall

2016-12-18 12:00
Joseph Kabila (File: AFP)

Joseph Kabila (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kinshasa - Talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo between President Joseph Kabila's party and the opposition are on hold after they failed to reach an agreement before the date Kabila was originally supposed to step down from power, mediators said Saturday.

Kabila's original mandate ends on Monday, and many fear widespread unrest if he stays in office unless some kind of political compromise is reached.

Anti-government demonstrations are expected on Monday and Tuesday. Police and military forces were already patrolling, searching cars and setting up checkpoints Saturday in Kinshasa, the capital. Authorities plan to cut off access to social networks Sunday for an undetermined period of time.

The national election once set for November in this Central African nation has been delayed indefinitely, allowing the president to remain in power until a vote is held. Congolese authorities say that updating the voters' registrar will take until at least until July 2017 and budgetary constraints may delay the election even further.

Political prisoners 

Catholic church officials who have been mediating the talks announced Saturday evening that the negotiations won't resume until Wednesday, raising fears of potential violence in the sprawling nation that has suffered decades of dictatorship and back-to-back civil wars.

"Given the breadth of the topics, participants came to the conclusion that these questions should not be dealt with hastily," Monsignor Marcel Utembi said in a statement Saturday, adding that several church officials are now headed to Rome for a few days.

"Meanwhile we ask everyone to pray for our country," he added.

Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi said he and his supporters maintain that a new election "must be held and can be held in 2017," despite calls from the presidential majority to hold them in April 2018.

Opposition parties also want political prisoners released and for the case to be dropped against opposition politician Moise Katumbi, who left the country after prosecutors said they would charge him with hiring mercenaries for his protection.

Massive demonstrations 

Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said the presidential majority was taking part in the talks with "an open mind to put an end to the crisis". He said while some prisoners could be released immediately, others might have to be pardoned by a commission.

Kabila came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father. DRC suffered through years of civil war, and some observers fear that tensions over Kabila's continued rule could once again unleash fighting in the mineral-rich country.

Massive demonstrations broke out in Kinshasa and several other cities across DRC in September when the electoral commission failed to call an election and clashes with police left over 50 people dead.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said on Saturday that concerns about unrest are high, especially since "no one to date has been held accountable" for the protesters' deaths in September.

"We call on the government, and especially its security forces, to take all necessary measures to guarantee the rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly," he said.


Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

12 Cool cat facts

Here are some surprising things you may not know about your fascinating feline

 
 

Paws

Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Watch: Proof animals have souls
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.