Monday, September 19, 2016
DR Congo: at least 17 people dead in Kinshasa before an anti- Kabila demonstration
Congolese police on Monday dispersed hundreds of opposition supporters who threw stones at them in Kinshasa. At least three policemen and 14 civilians were killed in violence according to the Interior Minister.
At least three policemen and 14 civilians were killed in the violence that occurred before a hostile manifestation of opposition against President Joseph Kabila, according to the Interior Minister. The authorities have announced the cancellation of the rally.
"The situation was extremely tense all morning, here in the capital," summarizes Thomas Nicolon, France 24 correspondent in Kinshasa.
Citing several looting or arson against political targets, Lambert Mende, spokesman for the Congolese government has accused the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the main opposition party, to be behind the violence.
Earlier, on a major thoroughfare in the center of the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), similar clashes pitted the security forces and tens of protesters throwing words in French or Lingala for " Kabila degage! " or "Kabila akende".
At the junction of Limete, the event scheduled to begin early in the afternoon, protesters set fire to a poster showing a giant portrait of the president calling for "dialogue" to overcome the political crisis in the country since his disputed re-election in November 2011.
On Lumumba Square, the main thoroughfare of Limete, several tires were burned on the streets in various locations and youth filtered the few cars that were circulating, only letting journalists.
Diplomatic sources also reported clashes further south in "various locations" on the road leading to the airport.
Refusal of "national dialogue"
Gathered around Etienne Tshisekedi, a "gathering" of the main opposition parties called for demonstrations on Monday throughout the DRC reminding Joseph Kabila that his term ends December 20 and demand that presidential elections are supposed to take place before this date.
Kabila came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila, Joseph Kabila is 45 years old. The Congolese Constitution prohibits him to run but he shows no sign of wanting to leave power.
While the presidential elections appears impossible to keep in time, the "Rally" built around Etienne Tshisekedi refuses the "national dialogue" underway in Kinshasa between the majority and part of the opposition. This forum is meant to lead to a "political agreement" to end the crisis and pave the way for elections.
It was to end Saturday, but the negotiators have not yet reached agreement on all points on the agenda, and work on the election schedule was to resume Monday in Kinshasa.
Kinshasa, ghost town
Megalopolis of 10 million inhabitants accustomed to political violence, Kinshasa had the look of a dead city Monday t. In several districts, schools were deserted by students, parents prefer to keep them at home. Many shops were closed, traffic was almost nonexistent. Without customers, a few taxis were breaking their prices.
A similar atmosphere prevailed in Lubumbashi, the second largest city in the southeast, where soldiers came to reinforce the police. the crowed surround key government buildings.
While any demonstration was banned, the provincial governor, Jean-Claude Kasembe, urged people to take up their occupations, but locals seem to have predominantly preferred to stay home.
In Bukavu, in the east, some 300 people demonstrated at midday to demand "respect the Constitution".