AFRICA/CONGO RD - Demonstrations to demand presidential elections have been repressed

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Tens of demonstrators have been arrested along with journalists who were trying to document the event. This is how the first demonstration convened to ask for the holding of political and presidential elections and the removal of President Joseph Kabila from office ended.
The peaceful march convened yesterday, July 31, in various cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the Lucha movement (Lutte pour le Changement), a youth movement based in Goma, in the east of the country (see Fides 28/7/2017) was repressed by law enforcement who arrested demonstrators in several cities. According to a police spokesman, demonstrators violated the law on public demonstrations, stating that forty were arrested in Goma, 17 in the capital, Kinshasa, others in Bukavu and Lubumbashi.
In several cities, such as Kinshasa and Beni, the demonstrators clashed with police forces that prevented them from heading towards the local offices of CENI, the Independent Electoral Commission, which should prepare the elections.
A note sent to Agenzia Fides by Peace Network for Congo says that "on July 18th while everyone was waiting for the electoral calendar for the presidential, legislative and provincial elections, the Electoral Commission published a timetable for the election of governors and vice-governors of 11 provinces. These are indirect elections that will be attended by illegitimate provincial deputies, since they finished their mandate a long time ago. These elections will be of no interest, in the current political context particularly marked by the recent statements of the President of the Electoral Commission, Corneille Nangaa, on the inability to organize presidential, national and provincial elections by the end of this year without specifying when they can be organized".
We recall that "Le Rassemblement, the opposition coalition which is not part of the government of the "national union led by Bruno Tshibala, has presented a protest calendar that will begin in August (see Fides 27/72017). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 1/8/2017)