Tens of thousands of Congolese took to the streets on Sunday, to protest against their president extending his term in office. Due to a series of events, they believe that President Joseph Kabila might try to extend his rule which ends in December.
This protest was spearheaded by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who just returned from Europe a few days ago. The 83-year-old had been undergoing medical treatment in Europe for two years.
Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans and waved flags as they marched down Kinshasa’s streets , calling for President Joseph Kabila to resign after his term ends in late December.
In May, Congo’s Constitutional Court ruled Kabila could remain in office in a caretaker capacity beyond the end of his mandate. The ruling sparked fears that Kabila could try to extend his rule by a third term. To make matters worst, the Kabila government claims they might delay elections due to logistical problems. More reason why Congolese are suspicious.
Addressing tens of thousands of protesters, Tshisekedi said the electoral commission needed to be convened by September 19, the “first red line, which must not be crossed.”
“The electoral body must be convened for the presidential election. If it is not, high treason will be proved in the person of Mr. Kabila, who will take responsibility for the misery of the Congolese people,” said the 83-year-old leader.
Tshisekedi was a prominent critic of Mobutu Sese Seko. He has struggled to unite the voice of the opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tshisekedi has also demanded an end to “arbitrary judicial cases” against opposition leaders like Moise Katumbi, who was sentenced in absentia to three years in jail for property fraud, making him ineligible to contest the upcoming presidential poll
President Kabila rose to power after the assassination of his father Laurent-Desire. At his youthful age, he was elected into office in 2006, and reelected in 2011, beating Tshisekedi. According to the constitution, he is not eligible to run for another term.