EXCLUSIVE: Congolese 'threaten to burn down' embassy in Pretoria

2016-12-16 13:01
File: AFP

File: AFP

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

Johannesburg - Democratic Republic of the Congo expatriates in Gauteng are set to have a "prayer meeting" on Friday, days ahead of a planned march on the country’s embassy in Pretoria.

Their action is set to coincide with protests by opposition supporters in the DRC on Tuesday, the first day after President Joseph Kabila’s term of office expires according to the country’s constitution.

There are fears that Kabila would attempt to change the country’s constitution to allow himself a third term. Elections were supposed to take place this year, but the country’s electoral commission has proposed an 18-month delay of the election date so that a census and voter registration could be completed.

DRC-based human rights lawyer Hubert Tshiswaka Masoka said: "On the ground in the DRC people are anxious because the second and last term of the president in office is ending on 19 December, and the president is not preparing his succession, and he didn’t organise elections, so people are very anxious".

Masoka said the constitution dictated that after the 19th, the president of the senate should step up and organise elections within 60 days. He blamed Kabila for the delay.

Negotiations 

The DRC ambassador to South Africa, Bene M’Poko, however, said the extra time was necessary for the electoral commission to "update voter registration, because people who voted in 2006, a lot of them have died, and more than 20 million young people who have come to age are eligible to vote, but are not part of voter registration".

The time was also needed to put in place provisions for Congolese citizens living overseas to vote.

M'poko said another consideration was money. The country, which is twice the size of South Africa but which is lacking in large parts in proper infrastructure like roads, needed between $1 and $2 billion to organise the elections.

M’poko said the DRC didn’t have the money and donors have so far not been forthcoming.

Negotiations to end the political stalemate in the DRC, facilitated and mediated by the Catholic Church, resumed on Tuesday after earlier talks led by the African Union failed to end the impasse.

The opposition coalition, Rassemblement (Gathering), backs veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi.

They are demanding the release of jailed leaders and the safe return of aspiring presidential candidate Moise Katumbi to the DRC, as well as guarantees from Kabila that he would not attempt to run for a third term.

Violence 

They also want the governing party to agree on a date for the elections in 2017.

M’poko said Kabila could not just step down next week because according to the constitution the president could only leave office when a new president was installed.

"There will be a power vacuum, and if we have a power vacuum today, Congo will disintegrate," he said.

M'poko said protesters had threatened to occupy and burn down the embassy, which is the property of a group of South African lawyers.

He said the South African police was tasked to protect the building and staff.

Meanwhile Congolese citizens who have the means have already started leaving the country for an extended Christmas break over fears that next week’s planned protests would lead to a widespread outbreak of violence.

A quick check of the South African Airways web site confirmed that flights to Johannesburg are full, with the first available flight being only on Wednesday.

Read more on:    drc  |  sa  |  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

 
/News
 

Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?

 
 

Paws

How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
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.