Congo Church piles pressures on Kabila to leave office
In the continuing standoff between the Roman Catholic church and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, five people were killed on Sunday 21 January, by security forces when the policefired tear gas live rounds in effort to disperse thousands of protestors.
The crowds were called out on an anti-government demonstration by the church. Over 30 people were injured in the clashes.
Jean-Baptise Sondji, a former minister and government opponent, said a 16-year-old girl was killed at the entrance to a church in the Kitambo area in Kinshasa, by a shot from an armoured vehicle.
“An armoured car passed in front of the church. They began firing live bullets, I protected myself,” Sondji, a doctor, said by telephone. “A girl who was at the left side door of the church was hit by a bullet. He said the girl died shortly after.
The government banned any form of demonstration in the country aimed at pressurising Kabila to step down from his 17-year hold on power. SMS and internet services were shut down, on Sunday, in attempt to prevent the gathering and demonstrations.
Catholic church and activists have organised continuous peaceful demonstrations, last Sunday, called on people to march after mass “with our peace branches, our bibles, our rosaries, our crucifixes, to save the Congo”.
The demonstrations held in Kinshasa, Goma, Lubumbashi and tensions were high in major cities of Kisangani, Lubumbashi, Goma, Beni and Mbuji Mayi, all in attempt to pressurised President Kabila to honour a signed deal, last year in which he was to step down and not seek another tenure.
“We are asking President Joseph Kabila to give up power and to respect the New Year’s agreement,” said Vyanney Kasondwa, a member of LUCHA, a group called ‘Fight for Change’.
“I marched today for a simple reason: I want to bring up my children in a country that respects human rights,” protester Pascal Kabeya, a 40-year-old market trader, told Reuters.
Florence Marchal, spokesperson for the United Nations said, 69 people, countrywide, have been arrested by security forces.
Pope Francis, making an appeal for peace, from Peru where he is visiting, said, “I ask the authorities and those responsible and all those in this beloved country that they use maximum commitment and effort to avoid all forms of violence and look for solutions in favour of the common good.”
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.