Kabila’s opponents endure harassment
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – A systematic crackdown is underway on opponents of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to cling to power beyond the constitutional second term.
This has marred some levels of a recent breakthrough as government and opposition leaders announced a compromise that could pave the way to elections next year. Elections are constitutional set for November this year but are increasingly unlikely.
No dates have been set and some top opposition parties have refused to take part in talks aimed at finding a solution.
Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said the harassment against dissident voices defied the constitution and international commitments to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
Local authorities in three different places have imposed blanket bans on demonstrations and broken up indoor meetings of opposition parties.
Numerous opposition protests have been declared unauthorised while demonstrations in support of the ruling coalition have been held freely, facilitated by the police and local authorities.
Political leaders who left the ruling coalition in disagreement over term limits have faced reprisals.
Moise Katumbi, prominent businessman and politician, has been targeted by the authorities after declaring his intention to stand in the election.
He was subsequently charged with hiring mercenaries and selling a house that did not belong to him. He left the country for medical treatment, and was sentenced in absentia in June 2016 to three years in jail and a US$1 million fine.
He remains in exile.
The United States said individuals responsible for perpetrating violence or repression, or for inciting imminent violence, should be held accountable.
– CAJ News
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