8 dead in DRC as Catholics challenge ban on protests against President

On Sunday, December 31, at least eight people were killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after security forces stormed Catholic churches across the country in an attempt to limit protests against President Joseph Kabila.

EIndeed, Catholic activists had called for demonstrations after the Sunday worship to demand the resignation of Kabila, who had promised to hold an election to choose his successor by the end of 2017. At least eight people were killed, including a police officer, as clashes erupted during a demonstration in the capital, Kinshasa.

Police and soldiers set up roadblocks to prevent around a thousand people from participating in the protest. Dozens of people were arrested, including 12 altar boys leading a protest in the nation's capital.

The provisional balance sheet would be "eight dead including seven in Kinshasa and one in Kananga", according to a UN source for AFP, "82 arrests including priests" in Kinshasa and "41 in the rest of the country".

President Kabila had publicly stated that he would not extend his power beyond the constitutional two-term limit, but elections have been repeatedly delayed since that limit expired in December 2016.

The elections were due to take place at the end of 2017 according to an agreement between Kabila and the opposition, but the elections have been postponed until December 2018. Protesters are looking for a promise from Kabila that he will not extend his term again.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, called in a statement "the government and the national security forces to exercise restraint and respect the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration of the Congolese people".

according to RFi Africa, priests "played a key role" in the protests. Their initiatives were greeted by the historian Isidore Ndaywel, member of the secular coordination committee, who now hopes for rapid responses to their demands "in order to clean up the political climate".

The day before these events, the Panzi foundation had again published on his French Facebook page, the press release by Dr Denis Mukwege calling on the government to be moderated.

“The construction of the Congo and the consolidation of our independence requires everyone's effort. It is utopian to think that a class of Congolese must continue to live in the extravagance of private jets, villas on the Côte d'Azur, while others must work painfully and eat alternately, without education, without water. , without electricity, without shelter. It is a form of modern slavery that we can no longer continue to accept. "


Image credit: Flickr / CC - onthebridge

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