KABILA CLINGS ON | DRC leader, Joseph Kabila is clinging on to power despite threats of increased violence.
The announcement just before midnight of the appointment of a new government — but with President Kabila still in ultimate control — triggered cries of “treason”, “provocation” and “confrontation”.
“What happened yesterday ( (Monday) was a rebellion,” said Daniel, 63, referring to Kabila’s decision not to step aside. “Even those without education know that after his second term, a president must leave office. They even know that in primary school!”
The 45-year-old leader, who has ruled since 2001, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term but under a controversial recent constitutional court order, he may stay on until a successor is chosen.
Kinshasa ground almost to a halt Tuesday with people staying at home as groups of youths burnt tyres and built barricades on the streets.Dozens of troop carriers patrolled the megacity of 10 million people and police officers and paramilitaries were out in force in other cities as they have been since Sunday. A crash barrier on a road in the capital had been daubed with red paint reading: “Kabila leave”.
“We had been waiting for the final declaration from CENCO,” said Louis, a 60-year-old from Kinshasa’s Singa Mupepe district, referring to the panel of bishops who had been negotiating a peaceful transfer toward new elections with the government and opposition factions.
Large plumes of black smoke rose above Kinshasa’s Yolo and Matete districts early Tuesday, with scorch marks visible on the streets where protesters had burnt tyres.So serious is the crisis rocking Congo that some have even suggested that the Belgian colonisation of the country was preferable to the current situation.
“When the Flemish were here, they would even come to get us if we didn’t go to school. Now if you owe ten dollars (to the school) they will chase you even if you’re successful (academically),” said Therese, 75, speaking on her doorstep wearing a blue dress as she waved a hand fan.
“(Young people) suffer a lot. What future have they given them? It’s graduates who go on to be motorcycle taxi and rickshaw drivers. I want to cry.” Two-thirds of DRC’s 70 million people are under the age of 25.
“Why do we all dream of going to Europe and settling there? Because here, we don’t have a chance to survive,” said Fabrice, another of Kinshasa’s increasingly angry residents who warned that people would only take so much before they began to resist.