Congo erupts against Kabila’ third term plans, as Katumbi eyes presidency

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 07.35.53Violence flared for a third day in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa amid mounting anger over plans to delay the country’s presidential election. Current president Joseph Kabila is said to be attempting to amend the law to enable him continue in office for a third term.

Meanwhile, the name Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, the governor of Katanga has come out prominently as a leading potential successor to Joseph Kabila.

Twenty-eight people have been killed since Monday in anti-government protests, according to a local human rights organisation. The authorities put the death toll at five, including two police officers.

Protesters oppose a draft law they say would delay the 2016 presidential election and enable President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power beyond his current mandate.

Kabila came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001 and won elections in 2006 and 2011. The constitution bars him from standing for a third term.

But critics say the government’s plans to revise the electoral law and order a national census in the vast, impoverished country will delay the election and extend his stay in power.

The government’s bill was adopted by the lower house of parliament last week and is currently being examined by a Senate commission.

Opposition leaders have vowed to continue protests until the proposal is withdrawn.

‘Kabila get out!’

AFP news agency said gunshots were heard at the University of Kinshasa on Wednesday as police cracked down on a student demonstration.

Two shots rang out as dozens of students shouted “Kabila get out!” faced off against a small group of police officers. In the Ndjili neighbourhood, near Kinshasa’s airport, youths destroyed a police vehicle.

This came a day after angry crowds torched a town hall in Ngaba, in the capital’s south, while several prisoners escaped from a neighbouring building. Looters also made off with police guns stored at the site.

On Tuesday, longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who is recovering from illness in Belgium, urged the Congolese people to force a “dying regime” from power.

Foreign powers have called for restraint and urged Congolese authorities to respect the election timetable.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the European Union said “all sides should seek a consensus allowing a return to calm”, adding that “respect of the electoral calendar as fixed by the constitution is central to the debate”.

Earlier, Russ Feingold, the US envoy to the Great Lakes region, called for “peaceful, credible, and timely elections”.

Meanwhile, the name Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, the governor of Katanga has come out prominently as a leading potential successor to Joseph Kabila.

According to comments posted on African Arguments website, Katumbi is a success story of his own because of the positive changes and new dynamics in his province. He has a good reputation as businessman and manager, and is known to be generous. He has the money and the looks for a great campaign. He is a charismatic personality who cunningly uses his success in football and development to feed into his political ambitions.

But he also has a number of disadvantages: there are some dark shadows hanging over his business past, he might not have a very strong personality as a leader, he is not to be considered as a sophisticated intellectual and he has a lot of adversaries in his own Katanga.

His white Jewish origins would also very likely be used against him. Most of all, he is looked at with some distrust by Kabila and his family members, although recent contacts seemed to have bridged the gap a bit. At the time of writing, he is ending a period of medical care in London, trying to purify his body from the last traces of arsenic poisoning a few years ago.

Katumbi is currently seen as one of the few politicians, perhaps the only one, who is able to mobilize a considerable electorate in the country’s eleven provinces. But, like President Kabila,

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


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