Congo: More than 50 murdered during anti-government protests

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Source: OperaMundi / September 20, 2016. According to the government, 17 people died during the clashes: the opposition said that there are more than 50 murdered. Protesters are demanding new elections.

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Photo Credit: Flickr/ MonuscoPhotos


The opposition coalition Rassemblement da DRC called for new protests against the President Joseph Kabila, after the protests where dozens were killed the headquarters of three political parties from the opposition were burnt down.

The country’s Interior Minister, Evariste Boshab, told the BBC that at least 17 people were killed, including the policemen. On the contrary the opposition states that there were at least 50 killed. “Rassemblement da DRC regrets the many victims —over 50 so far— caused by the use of live ammunition by the police and the Republican Guard”, they said in a released statement. Protesters took to the streets demanding the resignation of Kabila, who has been in power since 2001 and has served two terms as granted by the national Constitucion. They demand also the realization of new elections before the end of the year, as it was planned.

Despite the violence, the opposition called for protesters to take to the streets “in order to prevent an individual or group from monopolizing power”. During the protest, the headquarters of three opposition parties were set on fire by a group that was not identified and several venues were also looted. Rassemblement accuses Kabila of wanting to perpetuate himself  in power and ensures that mobilizations will continue until the President resigns and calls for new elections on the scheduled date.

DR Congo opposition HQs torched after deadly protests

By: Al Jazeera / The Dawn News / September 21, 2016

The headquarters of three opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were torched by unidentified assailants on Tuesday, one day after violent protests, leaving at least two dead inside.

The renewed violence came after a bloody day on Monday during which opposition groups said more than 50 people had died in protests calling for Kabila’s resignation.

The targeted buildings included the offices of leading opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), as well as the Forces of Union and Solidarity (FONUS) and the Lumumbist Progressive Movement (MLP).

The national secretary of the main opposition group blamed a “commando” unit from the government for torching the opposition headquarters buildings.

“Does a normal state respond with reprisals?” asked Felix Tshisekedi from the Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

At least two burned bodies could be seen in the fire-ravaged UDPS offices. Two others were burned alive and another injured, AFP journalists said.

Flames tore through all three headquarters, located in the capital Kinshasa, throughout the early morning on Tuesday.

Fighting through tears, a woman in her 40s told AFP that her husband was inside the UDPS office when attackers hit.

“I’ve just put my husband’s body in the morgue. He was killed in the clashes.”

The arson attacks come a day after the DR Congo government reported at least 17 people were killed in a bloody clash between Congolese police and protesters marching through Kinshasa on Monday, warning the figure could rise.

Opposition groups contradicted the death toll, saying at least 50 people were killed as security forces fired live ammunition on protesters in the worst clash the country has witnessed since a bloody police crackdown in January 2015.

The violent anti-government protests have intensified in the central African country as pressure mounts on President Kabila to step down from his position when his term ends on December 20.

Earlier this year in May, the Constitutional Court claimed that Kabila, who has ruled the region since 2001, could remain in office in a caretaker capacity until an election is held, triggering a wave of angry protests.

Kabila was catapulted into power as a young soldier by Kinshasa politicians, a day after his father was assasinated.

In 2006, three years after multiple peace deals ended a bloody war that embroiled troops from at least six foreign countries, Kabila won the first free, democratic presidential poll since independence from Belgium in 1960. A large UN peacekeeping force deployed during conflict enabled elections to take place in 2016.

The overarching consensus was that these elections were fair. But when Kabila won a second and final five-year term in 2011, his victory was disputed by domestic and foreign observers.

Opposition parties accuse Kabila of conspiring to extend his mandate by delaying general elections, initially due to take place in November, to next year at the very least. Government supporters deny the claims.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described the magnitude of the situation in Congo as “extremely worrying and very dangerous”, adding that European nations will discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions.

The vast, mineral-rich central African state has never seen a peaceful transition of power.


Source: Agencies

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