Sunday 18 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/10/18)
The Democratic Republic of Congo's powerful Catholic church vowed Friday to maintain pressure on President Joseph Kabila to step down, at a highly-charged mass for people killed in a protest march last month. "The march of Christians will not stop," Abbot Francois Luyeye said to loud applause at the packed Notre Dame cathedral, the capital's largest church. "We have a sacred duty to continue the good fight for the emergence of a new Congo in which the right man will be in the right place," the priest said in a sermon. The mass was held in memory of the victims of a January 21 march in Kinshasa when security forces opened fire on Catholic-organised rallies against Kabila. The United Nations...
(AFP (eng) 02/10/18)
DR Congo's army claimed Friday to have "annihilated" a rebel group in the country's chronically troubled east, killing at least 48 insurgents, capturing 150 others and winning back key territory. The offensive against forces loyal to William Amuri Yakutumba, a deserter fighting President Joseph Kabila, saw thousands of Congolese crossing Lake Tanganyika into Burundi as clashes raged between government forces and Yakutumba rebels in the eastern province of South Kivu. "The operation was a success, the rebels have been annihilated. There is no more fighting and we are in the midst of cleaning up operations," said army spokesman Major Louis-Claude Tshiwanga.
(AFP (eng) 02/09/18)
The world's biggest producer of cobalt, a key ingredient in modern batteries, plans a five-fold increase in tax on the commodity as part of an overhaul of its mining laws, industrial sources said Friday. The Democratic Republic of Congo would impose a tax of 10 percent on so-called "strategic metals" under the plan, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. The government last year signalled its intention to reform its 2002 mining code, which it considered to favour foreign investors at the expense of the economy. A first version of the draft law -- examined by the lower house, the National Assembly, in December, and then by the Senate in January -- envisaged a tax take of five percent...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The African Union's chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing on Thursday a French newspaper report alleging that China had spied on the continental body as "lies" intended to derail cooperation. The report published by Le Monde in January claimed technicians at the AU's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources. "I don't see it is in the interest of China to spy," AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said during a visit to Beijing, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss deepening cooperation on a variety of issues, as well as opening a...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco) on Wednesday urged a fair trial for an army officer who deserted and is accused of rebellion. "We are calling for the holding of a fair trial for Mr (John) Tshibangu," Monusco spokeswoman Florence Marchal told a press conference in Kinshasa. She added UN human rights officials were following Tshibangu's case closely, but that in the absence of access to all the details on his extradition last Monday from Tanzania they could not determine if all procedures had been followed correctly. RDC Defence Minister Crispin Atama Thabe said last Friday that former army colonel Tshibangu faced rebellion charges and accusations he took up arms against his country. Justice Minister Alexis...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
Unidentified assailants stabbed 12 patients in their hospital beds in the restive DR Congo city of Goma, with fears it was the work of Ugandan Islamist rebels, officials said on Tuesday. Three of the victims were seriously hurt in the knife rampage overnight Sunday-Monday in two health centres in the Goma district of Mbosho, provincial health minister Martial Kambumbu told AFP. "It is the first time we have seen patients being stabbed in health facilities in Goma," said Etienne Kambale, civil society rapporteur in North Kivu province, of which Goma is the capital. "It is surprising. We are wondering if it was the ADF who have turned up in Goma, because this is the way they killed people in Beni."...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
A militia chief accused of waging a weeks-long terror campaign in DR Congo's Kasai region has surrendered to the authorities, a local official said Tuesday. "Chief Kalamba Dilondo came to Kakenge of his own accord (on Monday)," Jacopo Pembe Longo, administrator of Mweka territory in Kasai, told AFP. "He was received by the governor of the province, who handed him over to the regional sector commander" of the Congolese army, Pembe Longo said. The vast Kasai region plunged into violence in September 2016, a month after government troops killed an influential local chieftain, Kamwina Nsapu, who was opposed to the government in Kinshasa. On January 30, nine people were killed by suspected Kamwina Nsapu militia forces who came to support...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
At least 23 members of the Hema ethnic group have been killed since Friday in renewed violence in Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri province, a leader of the group said in a statement Monday. A high-ranking provincial official, who did not wish to be named confirmed the toll since Friday and added that 10 fighters from a rival ethnic group, the Lendu had died. Hema herders and Lendu farmers have been locked in violence in Ituri province for decades, with tens of thousands killed from 1999 to 2003. The conflict in the area, part of DRC's deeply troubled eastern region that includes the restive North and South Kivu provinces, triggered a European Union-led military operation in 2003. The intervention saw...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Congolese police have released a Catholic priest hours after they snatched him this weekend following a mass in Kinshasa, the cleric said Sunday, amid spiralling tensions between the church and the government. Security forces had grabbed Father Sebastien Yebo outside his church on Saturday morning, beaten him and thrown him into a jeep, with witnesses describing the incident as a "kidnapping". Yebo told AFP he was let go in the afternoon after several hours of interrogation over his alleged links with the Kamwina Nsapu militia. The guerilla movement, based in Kasai province, has been leading a bloody rebellion since 2016 against moves by President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power.
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday told Brussels Airlines to reduce by nearly half the number of its weekly flights to Kinshasa, in a ramping up of tensions with its former colonial power Belgium. The move comes after Belgian and EU officials condemned a violent DRC government crackdown on protests against President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled since 2001. The number of Brussels Airlines flights to the capital will be "reduced from seven to four a week from Monday, February 5, 2018," said Civil Aviation Director General Jean Tshiumba Mpunga, in a letter to the airline's representative in Kinshasa. Congolese aviation officials blamed a lack of "reciprocity" in flights between DRC and Belgium, the letter said. A Brussels Airlines spokesperson...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Israel began warning thousands of African migrants Sunday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse. On January 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 migrants who had entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese. The controversial plan gives them until the end of next month to leave voluntarily or face jail and eventual expulsion. Immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP that officials began issuing migrants letters on Sunday advising them that they had 60 days in which to leave the country voluntarily. For now, the notices are being given only to men without families, officials said...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Police "kidnapped" a Catholic priest Saturday after mass in Kinshasa, witnesses said, amid spiralling tensions between the church and the DR Congo's government over the president's refusal to step down. "Father Sebastien was taken away by police just after morning mass," a nun of the Saint-Robert parish told AFP in N'sele on the eastern outskirts of the capital. A police vehicle drew up outside the church, officers jumped out and "started to beat the priest," said another nun who had also witnessed the incident. "They threw him in the jeep and drove off with him," she said, adding that an unidentified...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Thirty-four Congolese militiamen have been handed over to the Democratic Republic of Congo by officials in Burundi, the Congolese military said on Friday. The militiamen belong to the rebel Yakutumba group and were handed over to the Congolese authorities by the Burundi National Intelligence Service (SNR), Burundian officials said. The group had crossed into Burundi while the Congolese army was conducting operations in a nearby region, Burundian police said on Thursday. "Thirty-four militiamen who surrendered to Burundian security forces at Rumonge were extradited Wednesday from this region and are currently in the hands of the Congolese army at a secret location," said Captain Dieudonne Kasereka, deputy spokesman for the Congolese army in South Kivu province. Among those captured include "a...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
The UN imposed sanctions on a Congolese general on Friday for supporting the massacre of civilians by a suspected militia in eastern DR Congo. General Muhindo Akili Mundos, an ally of President Joseph Kabila, is one of four names to be added on to the UN sanctions committee list, said MONUSCO, the organisation's peacekeeping mission in the country. General Mundos was officially commander of the Congolese army's military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, in the country's Beni region from August 2014 to June 2015. At least 400 civilians were massacred in attacks attributed to the ADF in that period, and the UN says Mundos was involved. "Under the command of Mundos, the FARDC (Congolese...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Megastar Rihanna vowed she would "never stop fighting" to get millions of children back in school on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron promised a major boost in foreign aid for education in developing nations. Macron co-hosted a conference in Dakar organised by the Global Partnership for Education with Senegalese President Macky Sall, while Rihanna attended as the organisation's global ambassador. "We have made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done, we have a long way to go, and this is a fight we are never going to stop fighting, until every boy and every girl has access to education," she told the crowd. At ease with the African heads of state gathered onstage, Rihanna put...
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
The defence minister of Democratic Republic of Congo, Crispin Atama Thabe, confirmed Friday that former army colonel John Tshibangu will be extradited from Tanzania to face charges of rebellion. "He will be extradited," Atama Thaba told AFP in a text message. "This is the result of judicial cooperation between our countries." "Unless the Tanzanian government undertakes to try him and have him serve the requisite sentence," the minister added in an SMS exchange. The former colonel is accused of taking up arms against his country, the minister said.
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
Rihanna on Thursday used her star power to urge key governments to commit to ensuring education for the world's poorest as she takes part in an international conference in Senegal. The chart-topping singer arrived in the capital Dakar where she on Friday will join the Global Partnership for Education talks co-hosted by Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron. Rihanna, the fourth most followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers, took to social media to urge Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ensure specific funding levels. In her tweet to Macron, Rihanna -- who met with him in Paris in July -- thanked the French leader for leading the conference...
(AFP (eng) 02/01/18)
A former DR Congo army colonel who threatened an uprising against President Joseph Kabila has been arrested in neighbouring Tanzania, which may be preparing to extradite him, a rights group said Thursday. John Tshibangu, who deserted to rebel against Kabila in 2012, said in a video posted on social media on January 18 that he would "remove" the president within 45 days unless he apologised for a "massacre" of demonstrators on December 31, 2017. Catholic and opposition groups had defied a ban on demonstrations to demand that Kabila leave office, prompting a crackdown that left at least five dead and scores injured, according to UN figures. Tshibangu was arrested at Dar es Salaam airport on Monday night, according to the...
(AFP (eng) 02/01/18)
Opposition figures in DR Congo gathered Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of the death of their historic leader, in a ceremony that underscored the country's deep political rift. A crowd packed Kinshasa cathedral for a mass for Etienne Tshisekedi, whose death in Brussels on February 1 2017 at the age of 84 robbed the opposition of their figurehead. His remains have become part of DR Congo's political wrangle. Mourners loudly applauded the appearance of Tshisekedi's son, Felix, who is head of the Rally of the Opposition (Rassop), which is spearheading demands that President Joseph Kabila step down. Kabila, 46, has been in power since 2001 following the assassination of his father Laurent. He is at the helm of a regime...
(AFP (eng) 01/30/18)
Two days of unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo's southern opposition stronghold of Kasai have left nine people dead, local sources said on Tuesday. The anti-government Kamwina Nsapu militia "killed four people Monday in the village of Bata Ishama" in Kasai province, local administrator Jacopo Pembe Longo told AFP. The same militia, wearing red headbands and armed with rifles and machetes, on Tuesday "killed five other people in Kakenge", a village some 12 kilometres (seven miles) from Bata Ishama, Longo said. Local priest Wilfrid Imboyo told AFP the fighters had also "set fire to a hospital and more than 30 houses". He added local people sought refuge inside the church during the clashes. Violence broke out in Kasai in...

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