Sunday 18 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
Eight people were killed Sunday and dozens arrested as security forces in DR Congo cracked down on Catholic worshippers who gathered at churches across the country to demand President Joseph Kabila leave power, a UN source said. Despite appeals notably from the United Nations to respect people's right to protest, troops fired tear gas into churches and bullets in the air to break up gatherings at Catholic masses, in one case arresting 12 altar boys leading a protest in Kinshasa. Internet links were also down as church and opposition groups defied a ban by authorities to push ahead with the demonstrations. "Eight deaths -- seven in Kinshasa and one in Kananga," in central Democratic Republic of Congo, the source told...
(AFP (eng) 12/30/17)
A planned demonstration against Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila organised by Catholics has been banned a day before it was to take place in the capital, Kinshasa's governor said Saturday. "The city does not have sufficient numbers of police officers to supervise this march," Governor Andre Kimbuta said. "Therefore, I do not recognise the authorisation requested." About 150 Catholic churches had planned to protest in Kinshasa to call on the country to implement a compromise deal signed a year ago aimed at bringing about President Joseph Kabila's belated departure and restore stability in the crisis-hit country. In a letter to the governor, a secular coordinating committee said the agreement signed last New Year's Eve is "the only viable...
(AFP (eng) 12/29/17)
Three pro-democracy activists have been released after spending five months in prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo over a protest march against President Joseph Kabila, their organisation said Friday. Jean Mulenda, Jean-Pierre Tshisitshabu and Patrick Mbuya have left Kasapa central prison in the country's second-largest city Lubumbashi, human rights organisation Justicia ASBL said in a statement. They were sentenced to five months in prison for organising "an anarchic march" and inciting "civil disobedience" on July 31 in Lubumbashi. The activists said the march was intended to call on the country's electoral commission to quickly announce the date of long-delayed elections.
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
A soldier and six Mai-Mai militiamen died in clashes Thursday in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ugandan border, the Congolese army said. Since the beginning of 2017, Mai-Mai militias have regularly attacked Congolese army positions in the region. The lastest clashes between government forces and the militia began at around 8am (0600 GMT), local residents in Kasindi, in North Kivu province, said. Kasindi houses one of the main customs posts in the eastern DRC and which processes a large flow of merchandise from Uganda.
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Uganda's army on Wednesday claimed that its operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed over 100 members of a Ugandan Muslim rebel group accused of murdering UN peacekeepers. "Over 100 terrorists were killed with several others wounded and their logistic stores destroyed," said general Richard Karemire, the defence ministry spokesman, in a statement. The ministry said Ugandan forces (UPDF) had launched air and artillery strikes in a joint operation with DR Congo's army (FARDC) on December 22 against the Allied Democratic Forces, a group that the UN says killed 14 of its troops from Tanzania earlier this month. "It has been established that eight enemy camps were successfully attacked. These were ADF historical strongholds in eastern DRC," Karemire said...
(AFP (eng) 12/27/17)
The opposition in Democratic Republic of Congo said Wednesday it had garnered enough signatures to challenge a new electoral reform, which it says is buttressing the ruling party of President Joseph Kabila. Opposition spokesman Christophe Lutundula said the reform "automatically" banned certain hopefuls from running against Kabila in the next election, scheduled for December 23, 2018. The opposition says the law automatically excludes certain candidates by setting a minimum threshold of the share of the national vote that a candidate must win in order to obtain a seat. They also dispute the use of voting machines in ballot stations and the high deposit that candidates must pay, equivalent to several hundred dollars.
(AFP (eng) 12/27/17)
The Congolese army has stepped up arrests of South Sudanese refugees and tightened the border in a bid to block rebels from seeking sanctuary in its country, officials say. As hundreds fled into the Democratic Republic of Congo last week, after President Salva Kiir's government army dislodged Riek Machar's rebel SPLA-IO from its headquarters in southwestern Lasu, some 18 suspected rebels were taken into detention. It is the first time Congolese authorities have detained a significant number of South Sudanese and may signal a change in Kinshasa's policy towards the neighbouring country, riven by a devastating four-year power struggle. "As of now 15 have been released.
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
A residence of President Joseph Kabila was burned down early Monday in a suspected militia attack that killed a police officer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, witnesses said. So-called Mai-Mai armed groups were probably trying to steal goods from the building in Musienene, North Kivu province in the country's troubled east, according to a military official. "The residence of the head of state in Musienene has been targeted in an attack from 03:00 (01:00 GMT) and then burned by the Mai-Mai," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "The attackers ransacked everything before setting the house and some vehicles on fire." Kabila spends most of his time in the capital, Kinshasa, but is believed to have several homes...
(AFP (eng) 12/23/17)
With one year until long-delayed elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the countdown officially begins Saturday for a vote which is supposed to bring about the belated departure of President Joseph Kabila. But it remains unclear if the 45 million Congolese voters who registered in 2017 will finally get to choose a new president, deputies and elected representatives in "one single step" on December 23, 2018. Will Kabala, in office since 2001, cede power in early 2019 to his elected successor, after extending by two years his second and final constitutional term -- which should have ended on December 20, 2016?
(AFP (eng) 12/22/17)
Uganda's army said Friday it had launched attacks on a shadowy rebel group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the militants killed 14 UN peacekeepers earlier this month. Army spokesman Richard Karemire said the air force and long-range artillery were used in the cross-border strike, however no ground troops were deployed in what was described as a "pre-emptive move". He said in a statement that intelligence sharing with the DRC revealed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group was planning "hostile activities" against Uganda.
(AFP 12/21/17)
State employees of the Democratic Republic of Congo helped organise the mission trip of two UN experts to the central Kasai region where they were killed, according to a Reuters and Radio France Internationale (RFI) report. The revelation that "four state agents and associates" may have been involved in the murders appears to contradict the official account by Congolese government officials, who have maintained that no state employees were involved. Officials have also said they did not know the pair were in the area. Zaida Catalan, a Swedish-Chilean national and American Michael Sharp were killed in March while investigating reports...
(AFP (eng) 12/20/17)
A day of protest in Democratic Republic of Congo drew a small turnout Tuesday but the opposition vowed to pursue its campaign to unseat President Joseph Kabila over long-delayed polls. Rallies were held in several cities but were attended by only a few dozen people, although traffic and economic activity in some towns seemed below normal, witnesses said. At least 30 people were arrested. The opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) had called for nationwide protests ahead of two key anniversaries in DRC's crisis. "We may lose the battle but the war continues," said opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi from the "Rassemblement" (Unity) coalition, blaming the poor turnout on rain and a "lack of coordination." Normal life and traffic...
(AFP (eng) 12/20/17)
Security forces and an army-backed militia planned massacres in an opposition stronghold in the Democratic Republic of Congo, human rights activists charged Wednesday, calling the killings "crimes against humanity". The southern Kasai region suffered "one of the worst human rights crises in the world" between March and July, the Paris-based International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) said in a report compiled with partner rights groups in the country. It includes heart-rending testimony such as that of a 27-year-old woman who described soldiers attacking her village and burning down houses. As she fled, she "saw a lot of corpses... of children, of villagers." The FIDH said the atrocities "were perpetrated mainly by elements of the Bana Mura militia at the instigation and...
(AFP (eng) 12/19/17)
A day of protest in Democratic Republic of Congo drew only a small turnout on Tuesday, dealing a blow to opposition hopes of unseating President Joseph Kabila over delayed elections. Rallies were held in several cities but were attended by only a few dozen people, although traffic and economic activity in some towns seemed below normal, witnesses said. The opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress had called for nationwide protests ahead of two key anniversaries in DRC's crisis. Kabila's mandate formally ended on December 20 2016. He refused to step down, fuelling political confrontation and violence that caused dozens of deaths. The Catholic church stepped in, brokering a deal on New Year's Eve...
(AFP (eng) 12/19/17)
Four people were killed and five injured late Monday when a freight train derailed in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), officials said. The accident happened at the village of Bena-Kadiebue, 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of Kananga, the capital of Central Kasai province. "The toll is still provisional, because the freight cars are lying on their side," Francois Mutambue, a senior official with the national railway company at Kananga, told AFP on Tuesday. "Sand deposits" on the track were to blame for the accident, he said. Railways accidents in DRC are frequent and often deadly. Decrepit track and ageing locomotives are the most-cited causes.
(AFP (eng) 12/19/17)
Jean-De-Dieu was working in the fields in his village of Mamoundioma one day in October when he heard the distant but unmistakeable sound of gunfire. The 48-year-old pastor and farmer abandoned the fields and fled with his wife and their 10 children to Oicha, 25 kilometres (15 miles) away, where they took refuge with friends. With 12 extra mouths to feed, life there is tough. "We all go out into the fields to look for things to eat," said Kahindo, 28, the host family's eldest daughter. "It's war," Jean-De-Dieu says with simple resignation. They are part of a mass exodus of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo -- people who have seen neighbours killed, their home put to the...
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
The opposition in DR Congo ramped up pressure on President Joseph Kabila to quit, calling for street protests on Tuesday. Tensions have been mounting over Kabila's refusal to step down. He has been in power since 2001 and the prolonged rule has led to sweeping protests and a bloody crackdown. The opposition has said it wants a transition "without Kabila" in the Democratic Republic of Congo after December 31, in line with a peace agreement reached on New Year's Eve last year. "The protest set for Tuesday will proceed," Augustin Kabuya, the spokesman for the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress told AFP. "The aim of this march is to call for elections by the end of the year...
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
The UN's chief peacekeeper held talks Sunday with Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, stressing the need for greater security and new elections after 14 peacekeepers were killed in the violence-wracked east of the country. Jean-Pierre Lacroix on Friday visited the city of Goma to see around 30 peacekeepers wounded in the attack on their base in North Kivu province on December 7. A source with the UN's MONUSCO force in the country told AFP that Kabila and Lacroix discussed the attack -- the worst in the force's history -- as well as the security situation in the restive, landlocked nation. Lacroix said the violence in eastern DR Congo was "a collective problem that needs to be tackled collectively"...
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
France on Monday accepted a first group of 19 refugees who were identified in Africa under an overhauled asylum policy that will also see it expel thousands of economic migrants. While it has drawn little public outcry in France, the policy faces stiff opposition from the left and from charities that shelter migrants, 22 of which called in an open letter for France's rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon to intervene. Djamel, a refugee from the Central African Republic, arrived at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport with his wife and four children after spending four years at a camp in Chad, telling AFP: "Now we've no other family. Now you are our family." The new refugees -- also hailing from Sudan --...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
International war crimes judges on Friday awarded $10 million in landmark reparations to "hundreds or thousands" of former child soldiers left brutalised and stigmatised after being conscripted into a ruthless Congolese militia. Warlord Thomas Lubanga, 56, was jailed for 14 years after being convicted in 2012 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of abducting boys and girls and press-ganging them into his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) in the eastern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The judges said Friday that Lubanga, who is serving his sentence in a Congolese prison, was also liable for compensation to 425 victims, identified by the court. At the time of the crimes in 2002-2003, all were under 15. They stressed, though,...

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