Congo Bans Demonstrations as Opposition Calls for ProtestsBy
Police plan to disperse any gatherings of more than 10 people
Anti-government protests last year left 98 people dead
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo banned all demonstrations as opposition leaders urged their supporters to return to the streets after the collapse of a December deal for President Joseph Kabila to leave power this year.
“All gatherings of more than 10 people will be dispersed,” police spokesman Colonel Pierre Mwanamputu said Sunday by phone from the capital, Kinshasa. The streets of the city were quiet early Monday, with a heavy security presence.
Anti-government demonstrations in September and December left at least 98 people dead before the political accord under which Kabila would appoint an opposition prime minister to organize elections this year averted further violence. Opposition leaders last week called for renewed demonstrations after negotiations on the selection of that leader collapsed.
Kabila on Friday unilaterally appointed as Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala, who was expelled last month from Congo’s largest opposition party, in a move that further antagonized his opponents.
The decision “illustrates once more the cynicism of Joseph Kabila and his disregard for the Congolese people,” opposition leader Moise Katumbi said in an emailed statement. By not respecting the spirit of the agreement, “Joseph Kabila and all of the elected institutions of the country have become illegitimate.”
The breakdown in relations between Kabila and the country’s largest opposition platform may to lead to further violence as opposition supporters in Kinshasa and other cities seek to challenge what they say are attempts by the president to hold on to power. Kabila was due to step down in December at the end of his second term. Congo has never had a peaceful transfer of power.
During December’s protests, at least 40 people were killed by state security forces using excessive force, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office said in a report last month.