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Pope prays for DRC as Kabila urged to quit

22 December 2016


Protests: riot police remove a barricade used to block a road in Kinshasa, on Wednesday

Protests: riot police remove a barricade used to block a road in Kinshasa, on Wednesday

THE Pope has prayed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo be spared violence, as its President, Joseph Kabila, holds on to power, despite the expiration of his man­date on Monday.

Protesters took to the streets on Tuesday, calling for President Kabila to go. The Opposition leader, Étienne Tshisekedi, called on people to “peacefully resist [his] coup d’état”.

Reuters reports that police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of young people who gathered in the streets on Tuesday, but that a ban on demonstrations meant that most streets were deserted.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said on Saturday that he was “deeply alarmed” by reports that the government had asked internet providers and phone operators to block social-media networks, from Sunday evening.

Under an agreement reached between some members of the oppo­sition, elections are not expected before April 2018. Allies of Pres­­ident Kabila blame logistical and financial problems for the delay.

Dialogue mediated by the Roman Catholic Church, begun last month, ended on Saturday without securing consensus, although the bishops involved have pledged to return to continue it.

On Sunday, the Pope called for prayer “that dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo might unfold with serenity, in order that all manner of violence be avoided”.

Prince Zeid said that he was “especially concerned”, as Monday marked three months since 54 people died in Kinshasa, when armed forces used “excessive force” against people calling for the Presi­d­ent to step down at the end of his mandate. No one had been held account­able for this “violent repres­sion”, he said.

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