Military deploys across DRC's capital as Kabila stays on

2016-12-19 20:00
Joseph Kabila (File: AFP)

Joseph Kabila (File: AFP)

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

Kinshasa - Military and police deployed across Democratic Republic of Congo's capital on Monday amid fears of unrest on the last official day of President Joseph Kabila's mandate. He intends to stay on after the midnight deadline; a court has ruled he can remain in power until new elections, now postponed indefinitely, are held.

At least 41 opposition members and activists were arrested in the eastern city of Goma, according to Human Rights Watch and local residents.

Anger has been growing since it became clear that the vote once set for November would not take place on time. Political talks between the ruling party and the opposition, mediated by the Catholic church, stalled over the weekend and are set to resume Wednesday.

Congolese officials have said more time is needed to update voter rolls and make other preparations. The ruling party has suggested holding the vote in April 2018. Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has said new elections must be held in 2017.

The opposition has not officially called for demonstrations, though many observers expect people to take to the streets as they did in September, when the electoral commission failed to schedule the election. Human rights groups say more than 50 people died.

Concerns about unrest

"We can't demonstrate because of the police. They are patrolling and searching people," Jean Eva, an unemployed young man, said Monday. "Tonight it's the end of Kabila's mandate. At midnight, we are going to whistle to mark the end of the match. We'll whistle from our homes, in front of our doors. Lots of people got whistles."

At the University of Kinshasa, the military was deployed around an exit leading to the town center, but crowds still gathered.

In Goma, activists tried to build barricades but were quickly dispersed by police.

"We'll keep trying to protest with the means we have, but the military deployment is truly imposing," said Luc Nkulula, an activist with pro-democracy group Lucha.

Police spokesperson and North Kivu deputy commissioner Colonel Van Kasongo confirmed the arrests, saying the protesters "were disturbing public order and had thrown stones at police vehicles."

Separately, more than a dozen opposition members have been arrested in the last few days in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, according to Human Rights Watch. Two activists went missing Friday, the organisation said.

This sprawling central African nation, which has suffered decades of dictatorship and back-to-back civil wars, has never had a peaceful transfer of power. Kabila came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father.

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

Also Monday, at least seven people including attackers, a peacekeeper and a policeman were killed after an armed group raided Butembo's central prison in North Kivu to free prisoners, according to police spokesman Kasongo.

Mineral-rich eastern Congo has seen a surge in activities by armed groups in recent months.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation! 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


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
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 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.