SA mum on bloody DRC protests

2015-01-25 15:00

South Africa has chosen to remain quiet about bloody protests in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this week.

Plans by the central African country’s senate to change electoral laws, which might have seen its 2016 presidential elections postponed, were scrapped after four days of popular uprisings.

“We are not reacting to the protests. It’s an internal DRC matter for now,” said the department of international relations and cooperation’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela.

South Africa’s mission in that country had, however, briefed government on developments, another official told City Press.

The proposed change to electoral laws would have seen the polls postponed by a few years, extending President Joseph Kabila’s stay in power. Kabila has served two terms and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third. He has denied that he is trying to extend his term.

Stephanie Wolters, head of conflict prevention and risk analysis at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), wrote in ISS Today this week: “Anyone who knows Congo knows that large public protests are few and far between.

“It takes a lot to get people out into the streets, where they are more likely than not to meet violence at the hands of the government security forces, as they did this week.”

The US, France and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon have called for Kabila’s government to show restraint in handling the protests, which saw 42 people killed, according to one rights group. The DRC government, however, put the death toll at four, including two police officers.

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