Mass arrests mar worsening DRC crisis

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from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – POLICE have arrested over 120 critics of President Joseph Kabila, civil society activists and journalists as the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) escalates.

At least three people were injured after trigger-happy police opened live ammunition on the protesters.

The arbitrary arrests and detentions follow a brutal dispersal of peaceful protests by activists demanding the publication of the electoral calendar and call for the holding of elections before the end of the year.

The skirmishes occurred in the major cities of Beni, Butembo, Bukavu, Goma, the capital Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Mbandaka.

Among those detained were eight media representatives, including two members of the international press.

The journalists have been released following the intervention of the United Nations Mission in DRC (Monusco).

Maman Sidikou, special representative of the UN and head of Monusco, expressed concern at restrictions imposed on peaceful assembly and arrests
of those seeking to express their political views.

The envoy lamented the targeting of journalists and the confiscation of their material.

He also called on the national and local authorities to fully uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution.

“I also underline the need for political stakeholders, irrespective of their partisan affiliations, to refrain from any statement or action that could heighten tension and further polarize the political landscape,” Sidikou said.

Central Africa’s biggest country is torn apart by strife after Kabila clung on to power at the expiry of his term last year.

Elections set for last November were postponed and must be held until the end of 2017.

A deal reached in December bars Kabila from contesting.

– CAJ News




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