Congo-Kinshasa: Gunfire Erupts in Congo’s Capital As Kabila’s Mandate Expires

Gunfire was heard in several districts of Kinshasa as demonstrators called for President Joseph Kabila to step down. Kabila’s term expired at midnight, but he appears set to stay on as ruler.

Gunfire was heard in several parts of the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, early Tuesday morning as protesters took to the streets calling for the resignation of current President Joseph Kabila.

Kabila’s second term officially expired at midnight . Kabila, who has been in power for 15 years, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

Shops were closed in the main square on Monday, and soldiers and police outnumbered passersby in the capital in anticipation of possible violence. Social media access has been blocked and protests were outlawed. The UN human rights office in Congo said 28 people were arrested in Kinshasa and 46 in the eastern cities of Goma and Bukavu.

Demonstrations took place in the districts of Kalamu, Matete and Lingwala. Students at Kinshasa University clashed with soldiers and police, blowing whistles and burning tires.

Kabila, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to be willing to leave his post.

“I don’t see [Kabila] caving in to pressure,” said Kikaya Bin Karubi, Kabila’s diplomatic adviser, earlier Monday.

Staying in charge

Kabila has served as president of the central African nation since his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in 2001. Joseph Kabila was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2011, but the opposition said the 2011 election was rigged.

The ruling party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), and some opposition leaders have agreed to schedule an election in 2018 and allow Kabila to remain in office until then. But the main opposition bloc disagrees with the plan.

Should Kabila remain, there is growing concern over another civil war. Conflicts in central Africa between 1996 and 2003 killed millions.


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