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Anti-Kabila Protests Rock DRC Cities

People fleeing a peaceful political demonstration in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, when a group of hired thugs brutally attacked the demonstrators on September 15, 2015.
© 2015 BBC

Several people have been injured in different parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo as opposition started nationwide protests to compel President Joseph Kabila to step down from power, more about http://causestudio.co/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-press-this.php Chimp Corps report.

While Kabila’s term expires on December 19, unhealthy http://cyancdesign.com/wp-admin/includes/bookmark.php 2016, link http://csnn.ca/wp-includes/class-wp-feed-cache-transient.php DRC’s Electoral Commission this past weekend petitioned the Constitutional Court for a postponement of presidential elections.

The commission argues that it’s not ready to hold elections until July 2017 as new registers are being compiled.

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But the opposition believes this is a ploy by Kabila, who came to power in 2001 following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila, to buy time with the view of amending the Constitution to retain his hold on power.

The election season was scheduled to open on September 20 and the presidential polls on November 27.

Led by Etienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the opposition today rallied crowds in Kinshasa to express their frustration with the way the electoral process was being managed.

Police were compelled to use teargas and bullets to disperse the crowds.

Crowds clashed with police in different parts of the country including Goma, according to eyewitness accounts.

Stability  

Observers have since warned that failure to manage the next presidential election could threaten the mineral-rich country’s stability and future.

The Human rights Watch (HRW) report released Sunday shows the DRC government over the past two years cracked down on activists and opposition party leaders and members who have opposed extending Kabila’s presidency beyond the constitutionally mandated two-term limit.

A government-led “national dialogue” is due to present its final agreement in the coming days.

Most of the main opposition parties have not participated in the process, viewing it as a ploy to delay elections and allow President Kabila to stay in power.

HRW said government repression has spiked in the days leading up to the planned protests.

“In the capital, Kinshasa, about a dozen pro-democracy youth activists were arrested following a meeting, on September 15, on non-violence, peace, and respect of the constitution. They are being held by the national intelligence agency, without charge and without access to their families or lawyers,” said HRW.

Last week, police in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi fired teargas and, later, live bullets to disperse opposition party members who were meeting to prepare the September 19 protests.

Some meeting participants responded by throwing rocks, burning tires, blocking the roads, and looting several shops and offices. Dozens were arrested early the next morning.

“The decisions President Kabila and his government will make in the coming weeks can make all the difference for Congo’s future,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“This is a critical opportunity for the country to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and human rights for its own future and for the entire region

Troubled history

Congo has never experienced a peaceful handover of power since independence in 1960.

The first prime Minister of the Independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba was murdered in February 1961.

President Joseph Kasavubu and his Prime Minister Moise Tshombe were toppled by Joseph Mobutu in 1971.

In May 1997, rebels supported by Rwanda and Uganda captured Kinshasa before installing Laurent-Desire Kabila as president.

Four years later, President Laurent Kabila was shot dead by a bodyguard, leading to the rise of Joseph Kabila to the highest political seat in the land.

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