The United States has urged DRC government and leaders of the political opposition to refrain from any statements or actions that could incite violence and to ensure full and swift implementation by the government of the DRC of the agreement in conformance with UN Security Council Resolution 2348, to ensure the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The United States reiterated disappointment over the failure of signatories to the December 31 agreement to reach agreement on the selection of a new Prime Minister in accordance with the agreement, according to a press release yesterday.
The US maintains it is essential to ensuring the desire of the Congolese people to vote in free and fair elections is respected, warning that it remains prepared to impose restrictions on individuals, whether government or opposition, who undermine DRC’s democratic institutions.
“Unfortunately, uncertainty about the government’s commitment to implement the agreement and hold elections by the end of 2017 is creating a worrisome uncertainty across the DRC,”
The United States encourages leaders of the opposition Rassemblement coalition to work with the Council of Catholic Bishops and other signatories to the December 31 agreement towards the goal of elections and a peaceful, democratic transfer of power.
On April 11, 2017, Human Right Watch (HRW) report that security forces fired teargas and arrested over 80 people to break up or prevent small demonstrations across the country after opposition parties called for protests against the failed implementation of the New Year’s Eve agreement, a power-sharing deal mediated by the Catholic Church last year after President Joseph Kabila refused to step down from power at the end of his two-term limit.
HRW says daily life in Kinshasa came to a near stand-still in the morning with many shops closed and roads largely empty while small groups of people attempted to protest in Kalamu, Kimbanseke, Lemba, Limete, Masina, Matete, Ndjili, and Ngaliema neighborhoods, but were quickly dispersed by security forces, who in some cases fired teargas on groups of protesters. Some protesters, in turn, threw rocks at the police. At least 40 people were arrested across Kinshasa; around a dozen was released by the end of the day.
Security forces arrested at least 12 people in Bukavu; 10 in Kindu; 10 in Lubumbashi; seven in Kongolo; five in Mbuji-Mayi, and four in Kamina. Forces also beat protesters in Kamina, wounding at least six people. Small protests in Bunia and Mbandaka were dispersed without any arrests reported.
In Beni and Kananga, opposition parties decided against a protest and instead called for a ville morte – literally a “dead city.” Numerous shops remained closed, and many people stayed home. Local activists reported unusually high numbers of security forces deployed in other cities, including in Kananga, Kisangani, Bandundu, and Kikwit.