Congo authorities block opposition demonstration

Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila arrives for a southern and central African leaders' meeting to discuss the political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Luanda, Angola, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have blocked an opposition demonstration in the capital on Saturday.

The demonstration aimed at putting pressure on President Joseph Kabila to step down next month at the end of his mandate, witnesses said.

The rally was banned on Saturday and security forces maintained a heavy presence. They also prevented activists and the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo from approaching the house of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Sites isolated
“The sites where the meeting would have taken place have been isolated,”
police spokesman Pierre Mwanamputu said in a statement. Police shut down a similar protest on November 5.

Kabila named opposition figure Samy Badibanga as prime minister on Thursday under a power-sharing deal that allows the president to stay in office until at least April 2018.

The main opposition bloc denounced the choice as a provocation but its attempts to stop the government’s agenda appear to be struggling to gain traction.

International powers fear the impasse could lead to violence in the giant Central African nation, where millions died in regional wars between 1996 and 2003. Fifty people died in anti-government street protests in September.

Mercy Chukwudiebere