The fears of the International Community and rights groups concerning DR Congo have been realized as the people began to protest against President Joseph Kabila on December 19 when his Presidential mandate was officially set to expire.
President Joseph Kabila, however, stays clinging to power, and opposition leaders in DR Congo are referring to his attempts at delaying the elections as a coup d’état.
The United Nations on Tuesday said that at least 20 people have already died in the clashes between police and demonstrators. UN human rights director for the DRC Jose Maria Aranaz told Reuters;
“On the issue of deaths, it looks bad, we are reviewing allegations of up to 20 civilians killed, but it (the information) is pretty solid.”
DR Congo had scheduled to hold her elections on November 20 this year, but President Joseph Kabila had refused to stamp the date. The country’s Independent National Electoral Commission also said that they could not organize an election until 2018.
A constitutional court full of judges who had been handpicked by President Joseph Kabila then ruled that the incumbent must rule until a successor is chosen, essentially, securing Kabila’s stay in power.
Opposition parties angry at the ‘coup’ have said that they will continue to protest until the President leaves office. On Tuesday, keeping to their plans, the protests began. Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi started off the day’s protests with a call for a peaceful resistance.
The peaceful tack did not last long. Gunfire soon greeted the 12 million residents of the capital Kinshasa and youths burned tires in the streets, forming burning barricades. Some of the youths chanted;
“Kabila, your mandate is over.”
Meanwhile, social media remains blocked and a ban has been placed on demonstrations. Kabila’s government also deployed extra soldiers and security forces throughout the country. Dozens of protesting civilians have already been arrested.
President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the DR Congo for nearly 16 years, has added another chapter in a continuing story of violent transitions since the country gained independence in 1960.