DRC makes arrests ahead of anti-Kabila protests

2017-11-16 17:56


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

Kinshasa - Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday stifled street protests against the extended rule of President Joseph Kabila, making several dozen arrests according to campaign groups, despite a UN appeal to allow peaceful demonstrations.

The Lucha citizens' movement said at least 27 were detained by police in North Kivu province in the country's east, including 15 in the provincial capital Goma.

In the neighbouring province of South Kivu, Lucha denounced "the arrest of 13 activists" who were detained while a communique was being read out.

In a statement, the police said there had been 19 arrests, comprising six in Goma, seven in Lubumbashi and six in Matadi, while a "delinquent" was wounded by gunfire in Kinshasa, the capital.

It said there had been sporadic incidents in several towns, including burning tyres and a torched bus, and paid tribute to "the maturity (of citizens) who did not respond to this appeal to demonstrate in order to destabilise institutions."

On the eve of the protests, the government alleged "acts of incitement" by "a fringe of the opposition."

"The governor has given us the order to disperse any protests. Any gathering of more than five people will be dispersed," Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo warned, adding, according to local media, the word "mercilessly."

The Lucha movement said the statement, issued after a government meeting, amounted to "a programme of repression".

Official moves to dissuade protests followed a statement from the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO urging authorities "to respect the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Congolese constitution, including freedom of assembly and of demonstration."

In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein issued an appeal ahead of Wednesday's rallies.

He called on the authorities "to halt the inflammatory rhetoric against protestors" and ensure respect for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

Mineral-rich but chronically poor, politically unstable and saddled with a reputation for entrenched corruption, the DRC is facing the risk of a flare-up of violence over Kabila's decision to stay in office.

He was scheduled to have stepped down in December 2016 after a constitutional maximum of two terms in office.

But protests and a bloody crackdown swelled, claiming dozens of lives.

A deal was then brokered by the Catholic Church on New Year's Eve, enabling Kabila to stay in office pending elections, which have been delayed.

Pressured by the international community, the ballot is now scheduled for December 23, 2018, electoral officials announced this month.

But the opposition immediately rejected that timetable and said Kabila must stand down.

Zeid said that a large number of arrests - "at least 65" - had taken place Lubumbashi, in the southeast of the country, even before the electoral calendar was announced.

"All those arrested were later released, some on bail, but these arrests were part of a worrying pattern of actions to prevent political opponents from gathering," he said.

Opposition groups have called for more protests on November 28.

Read more on:    un  |  catholic church  |  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.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.