Wednesday 25 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/12/18)
Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi launched a campaign Monday to be elected president in polls scheduled for December, unveiling his new "Together for Change" party in South Africa. "We will fight the battle to take power -- and we will win," said Katumbi at a meeting of several hundred supporters at a hotel outside Johannesburg. "This fight and the successful transfer of power are national issues... so we have decided to establish a political movement known as 'Together for Change'." Democratic Republic of Congo's election was originally scheduled for late 2016, but has been twice delayed, leading to unrest in the vast mineral-rich country. Western powers have accepted the delay with reluctance, hoping it will avoid bloodshed. But Katumbi...
(AFP (eng) 03/12/18)
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition groups rallied behind exiled figure Moise Katumbi at talks in South Africa on Saturday aimed at forging a united front to fight elections due by the end of the year. Exiled Katumbi led dozens of opposition leaders at the three-day meeting in Johannesburg to map out a strategy for the planned December 23 election to replace President Joseph Kabila. "What brings us here is the rejection of the dictatorship that has taken root in our beautiful country and the desire to build a better world for our compatriots," Katumbi said in opening remarks to over 100 participants. "Together we will help build the alternative for the future and show the Congolese people that they are...
(AFP (eng) 03/12/18)
DR Congo President Joseph Kabila enacted a law to hike taxes on so-called strategic metals and ordered government consultations with foreign companies worried by the change, an official said Sunday. "The law has been promulgated in the same form as was adopted by parliament," a presidential adviser who asked not to be named told AFP. The new text replaces the Democratic Republic of Congo's 2002 mining code, which the government considered to favour foreign investors at the expense of the economy. The new code allows a levy of up to 10 percent on key minerals, expected to include copper and cobalt. There would also be a tax of 50 percent on windfall profits -- so-called super-profits that occur when prices...
(AFP (eng) 03/10/18)
UN chief Antonio Guterres on Friday hailed "progress" towards holding long-delayed elections in DR Congo but criticised the government for brutally putting down demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila. Kabila was due to stand down from office in December 2016, ending his second elected term. But he has controversially stayed on under laws enabling him to retain power until his successor is elected. The latest timetable to hold elections is for December 23 -- a year later than scheduled under a New Year's Eve 2016 peace deal brokered by the Catholic Church. "I commend the measures taken by the government to put in place a legal framework for the December 23 elections," Guterres said in a report. He noted the "encouraging...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
Seven people fleeing violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo drowned when their boat capsized during a bid to reach Uganda across Lake Albert, Congolese sources said on Friday. "Their canoe was overladen and became unstable," Deogratias Abaingi Rusoke, head of the district of Kasenyi, told AFP, adding that only one body had so far been recovered. Tens of thousands of people have made the perilous crossing of the Great Lake to flee violence in Ituri province between the Hema and Lendu ethic groups -- cattle herders and farmers who have a long history of fighting over land. More than a hundred have died in the unrest since mid-December, and as many as 200,000 have fled their homes, according to...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
A thousand artists from over 50 countries will gather in Ivory Coast on Saturday for a week-long festival of African music, theatre, dance, comedy, slam poetry and storytelling. The 10th edition of the biannual Market for African Performing Arts, known by its French initials as MASA, will mark the 25th anniversary of the event. This year's crop of artists come from all over Africa and the African diaspora in Japan, Haiti and Canada, performing in the economic capital Abidjan and five other cities, the organisers said. Artists include Ivorian jazz fusion drummer Paco Sery, traditionalist Malian singers P-Pentatonique and Cape Verde's Maria de Barros. MASA was launched in 1993 by the International Organisation of La Francophonie, which represents French-speaking countries...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
War crimes judges Thursday upheld an order that a former Congolese militia leader must pay $1 million in damages to his victims, after his forces rampaged through a village in 2003. Germain Katanga, 39, a former militia commander from the restive northeastern Congolese Ituri province, had appealed against the compensation, arguing that it was excessive and did not reflect his role in the event. But judges at the International Criminal Court disagreed. Presiding judge Howard Morrison said the purpose of reparations "is to repair the harm that was inflicted on the victims" and where possible to try restore things to where they were before. "That this amount may be high is simply a result of the extent of the harm...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
DR Congo President Joseph Kabila has promised to have "constructive dialogue" with mining companies worried over plans to hike taxes on so-called strategic metals, a category expected to include the booming market for cobalt and copper. Kabila on Tuesday held more than seven hours of talks with leading players in the Democratic Republic of Congo's mining sector over plans to change the country's 2002 mining code. "The president reassures mining operators that they are economic partners in the DRC and that their concerns will be taken into account through a constructive dialgoue with the government after the new mining law is approved, with a view to finding compromise," Kabila's office said in a statement released late Wednesday. In Tuesday's meeting,...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
The powerful Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has said it supports calls for a nationwide stoppage on Friday in response to a bloody crackdown on protests against President Joseph Kabila. An umbrella group of 10 pro-democracy groups have appealed for a "ghost town" protest, in which cities come to a standstill, over the deaths of two activists shot dead by police in demonstrations on February 25. A church-backed group called the Lay Coordination Committee (CLC) on Thursday said it "completely supported" the initiative.
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
The UN envoy for the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday warned of a risk of violence as the country heads toward elections in December. DR Congo is in the grip of a "shocking" humanitarian crisis with 4.5 million people in need of aid, the highest number in Africa, Leila Zerrougui told the Security Council. President Joseph Kabila agreed to free political prisoners and respect the rights of the opposition under a political deal reached in 2016, but Zerrougui said the government had fallen short of those commitments. "A failure to generate confidence in the full and faithful implementation of the December 31 agreement will only serve to heighten political tensions, and to fuel the risks of inciting violence for...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
Eighteen employees of a gorilla sanctuary in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been abducted by a militia group, sources said on Wednesday. An official with an NGO said the abduction took place on Monday in the area of Nzovu, which lies in the huge Kahuzi-Biega National Park, and an armed group called the Mai-Mai Raia Mutomboki was responsible. The victims comprise nine administrative employees, who were carrying out an inventory, and nine guards, the source said. "(Eighteen) workers in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park were kidnapped by militiamen," Kashombana Bin-Saleh, administrator of Shabunda territory, confirmed to AFP. "The 18 are alive and talks for negotiating their release will start as soon as a team from the (park) arrives in Shabunda,"...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
A group of 2,500 Burundian refugees, fearing repatriation to their home country, moved Wednesday from the Democratic Republic of Congo to nearby Rwanda, a spokesman said. The refugees belong to an obscure Catholic sect that follows a female prophet called Zebiya and claim to have fled their homeland due to religious persecution. In January the group said humanitarian agencies had stopped delivering them aid, after their refusal to register on a biometric database, which they said would violate their religion. "It has been two months that we have had no food aid from the (United Nations refugee agency), we were living under threat from our Congolese neighbours and we feared being extradited to Burundi,"...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/07/18)
LUANDA (Reuters) - The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) is deeply concerned about rekindled tension in the violent Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and criticized the Angolan government for forcing some 500 refugees to return. Angola’s government forced 530 Congolese to return to Congo between Feb. 25 and 27, UNHCR said in a statement on Tuesday. Of those sent back, 480 were unregistered refugees staying at the Cacanda center managed by aid agencies in the frontier town of Dundo, the statement said. “Continuing instability poses a grave risk to civilian safety, including for several hundred refugees recently returned there from Angola,” it said.
(AFP (eng) 03/06/18)
Rail traffic between the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbour Angola has resumed after a 34-year break, providing a vital boost for DRC's mining exports, officials said. "The first train left DRC on Monday hauling 50 containers and arrived at Luau station in Moxico province" in eastern Angola, the Congolese presidency said on Tuesday. The train, which left from the border town of Dilolo in southeastern DRC, is heading for the Angolan port of Lobito, on the Atlantic coast, it said. Ikos Rukal, spokesman for the provincial government of Lualaba, where Dilolo is located, said the 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) Dilolo-Lobito route was "the most cost-effective form of transport" for exporting copper and cobalt from DRC's southern mining belt. The line...
(AFP (eng) 03/06/18)
Civil opposition groups in Democratic Republic of Congo called for a general strike on Friday in protest at the killing of activists during anti-government demonstrations. Gloria Senga, an activist of the Struggle For Change movement, called at a news conference for a stoppage "in memory of our brothers and sisters whom the enemy has killed in cowardice". Anti-government protests in the vast central African country have turned deadly in recent months. The Catholic church and UN peacekeepers say 17 people have been killed overall. President Joseph Kabila has refused to state whether he will step aside even though his term ended in December 2016. In a statement read out by Senga on Monday, 14 civil groups called on the international...
(AFP 03/06/18)
The assailants were methodical. They came in waves. First came the ones who killed. Then came the ones who torched homes. And finally, the ones who looted anything of value. Ahead of them, terrorised villagers fled for their lives -- the latest victims of the ethnic conflict that bedevils Ituri, the troubled northeastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bloodshed is part of a cycle of violence between the Hema and Lendu communities, cattle herders and farmers who have long fought over land -- a conflict that has recently intensified as DR Congo struggles over its future. At least 49 people were killed last week, bringing the death toll since mid-December to more than 100, while 200,000 people...
(AFP (eng) 03/05/18)
The United Nations on Friday conceded that an attack that killed 15 peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo late last year exposed "gaps" in how UN troops are trained. The December 7 attack in the Beni territory of North Kivu province was one of the worst to target UN peacekeepers in recent history in the country. Fifteen Tanzanians were killed and 43 other peacekeepers wounded. It was the bloodiest attack against MONUSCO, the UN force deployed in DR Congo since 1999, and the worst against a UN force since the death of 24 Pakistani peacekeepers in Somalia in June 1993, leading to a special UN investigation. UN investigators were tasked with evaluating the response of the UN peacekeepers and...
(AFP (eng) 03/05/18)
Seven people died in a raid by suspected Ugandan Islamist rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the latest in a string of deadly cross-border attacks, officials said Sunday. "Six people were shot dead and another was stabbed" in the village of Eringeti in DR Congo's restive North Kivu province, a Congolese military source told AFP. Eringeti's mayor Leon Baungatho said the assault happened around 5.30 pm (1530 GMT) on Saturday. "We are still grieving," said regional official Noela Kavivutwiraki. "The army needs to redouble its efforts to prevent suprise attacks from Ugandan rebels." Thought to be behind a string of deadly attacks in North Kivu, the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia stands accused of a number of attrocities...
(AFP (eng) 03/02/18)
At least 49 people were killed in a fresh outbreak of ethnic violence overnight in the Democratic Republic of Congo's troubled Ituri province, a senior charity official said on Friday. The latests killings were part of a cycle of unrest between the Hema and Lendu communities in the northeastern province, the government told AFP. "We have counted 49 bodies and are still searching for other bodies," said Alfred Ndrabu Buju from international Catholic charity Caritas. "A child was admitted this morning in Drodro general hospital, with an arrow in his head," Buju added. The Interior Minister Henri Mova earlier put the death toll at 33. "The provincial governor is on his way to the site of the killings," Mova said...
(AFP (eng) 03/02/18)
A daily flotilla of wooden canoes makes the 10-hour eastward crossing of Lake Albert ferrying hundreds of refugees from DR Congo's latest spasm of violence to the safety of Uganda. The repurposed fishing vessels come to Sebagoro beach crammed with the bedraggled and dispossessed survivors of an outbreak of fighting between rival Hema and Lendu communities in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In recent weeks more than 28,000 have made the passage, according to United Nations figures, most of them women and children, bringing with them tales of horrific violence. "When they were starting to kill we saw we were going to die, so we ran away. My two sisters were at home and they killed them,"...

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