- Title: Congo political rift likely to spark 'large-scale' violence - UN.
- Date: 12th October 2016
- Summary: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (FILE) (REUTERS) POLICE PICK UP FIRING, TIRE BURNING IN BACKGROUND VARIOUS OF POLICE FIRING GUNS PROTESTERS RUNNING, POLICE TRUCKS DRIVING BY MORE OF PROTESTERS RUNNING, SMOKE IN THE BACKGROUND BILLBOARD WITH PICTURE OF PRESIDENT JOSEPH KABILA BURNING
- Embargoed: 27th October 2016 15:01
- Keywords: Joseph Kabila Elections Opposition Protests Monusco UN Politics Constitutional terms
- Location: NEW YORK, US/ KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- City: NEW YORK, US/ KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- Country: Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00253P8ORB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: There is "extreme risk" to the stability of Democratic Republic of Congo as a deepening political rift over President Joseph Kabila's future will likely spark large-scale violence, the United Nations envoy to the country said on Tuesday (October 11).
Kabila, in office since 2001, is barred by constitutional term limits from standing for a third term.
But the country's electoral commission says logistical and budgetary obstacles will prevent it from organizing a new poll before December 2018.
"The Democratic Republic of Congo has entered a period of extreme risk to its stability. The electoral crisis has become a constitutional crisis, with deepening political polarization and no immediate resolution in sight. Actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends, while the space for constructive political activity has shrunk still further. If this trajectory continues, I believe large-scale violence is all but inevitable. And while MONUSCO will do everything it can within its mandate to protect civilians, the scope of the threats dramatically outstrip the Mission's capabilities," Maman Sidikou, head of the 18,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, told the U.N. Security Council.
Anger has been simmering for months in Congo over what opponents of Kabila believe are his efforts to hold on to power as other African leaders have done.
In March, the U.N. Security Council called on the country to organize a poll this year.
Last month anti-government protests in the capital Kinshasa turned violent and dozens of people were killed.
The Security Council called on Congolese authorities to exercise maximum restraint and urged the leaders not to exacerbate the situation.
"The UN has confirmed the killing of at least 49 civilians in the clashes that took place, 38 by gunshot, others burned alive or killed by machete. More than 140 civilians were injured, and there are unconfirmed reports of dozens of other casualties. Four police officers were also killed allegedly by demonstrators during the clashes," said Sidikou.
Bruno Tshibala, the deputy secretary-general for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Democratic Republic of Congo's largest opposition party was arrested late on Sunday for his role in anti-government demonstrations last month in which more than 50 people died, the government said on Monday, leading to threats of more protests if he is not released.
The Congolese ambassador to the UN, Ignace Gata Mavita said his government had responded "favourably" to a series of demands put forward by the opposition to "encourage a broad inclusive dialogue" but the opposition groups who refuse the dialogue add more demands which delay the process.
"The efforts of the authorities of the city, trying to get in touch with the organizers and ask them to intervene to calm the protesters, were in vain. It is in these conditions that the situation degenerated and march was transformed into a real insurrection. Demonstrators armed with stones attacked the police. They took a 12 year old daughter wearing a school uniform and on her way to school. They killed her after first raping her. They burned alive a policeman stationed outside the headquarters of a political party after stripping him of his weapon and then killed three other police men who were trying to restore order," he said.
Congo, Africa's top copper producer, has been further destabilized by the fall in global commodity prices, which forced the government in June to cut its 2016 budget.
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