DR Congo police forcefully disperse demonstrators amid concerns over national election legitimacy News
Thomas Dougherty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
DR Congo police forcefully disperse demonstrators amid concerns over national election legitimacy

A banned protest in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), turned violent on Wednesday as police forcefully dispersed demonstrators, leaving several people wounded.

The protest was organized by opposition leaders running against incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi, following concerns over the legitimacy of the national elections results. However, the protest was banned over security concerns. The credibility of the contested elections, which was scheduled for December 20, has been called into question following an extension by the election commission (CENI) and a series of allegedly politically motivated arrests and crackdowns, assaults, and sexual violence.

Opposition leaders condemned the indiscriminate violence against protesters, emphasizing the constitutional right of the Congolese people to demand a re-election. Moïse Katumbi, a prominent political figure and candidate in the upcoming presidential elections warned that “a point of no return” had been crossed, announcing plans for further actions across the nation. Preliminary results show an 80% lead for President Tshisekedi, while Katumbi and Martin Fayulu stand in second and third place. Tshisekedi has been in office since 2019, however, his election was similarly controversial, as Fayulu maintains that he had won the election five years ago.

The EU cancelled their electoral observation mission in the DRC due to security concerns, and Katumbi suspended campaign events after a violent incident at a rally. Human Rights Watch also called for an investigation into electoral violence. The elections have further destabilized the DRC, already grappling with a security crisis in eastern areas. The country is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and Africa’s largest producer of copper, essential minerals for many technologies. Reports from Amnesty International alleged that the Congolese people have faced forced evictions to accommodate expanding mining projects.

International legal instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), guarantee individuals’ democratic rights and impose upon state parties obligations to undertake active steps to protect and facilitate the enjoyment of these rights. The DRC is a state party to both the UDHR and ICCPR.