Protesters have taken to the streets in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following divided public opinion on the outcome of talks about a delayed presidential election.
The talks are spearheaded by controversial AU mediator, Edem Kodjo. Some members of the opposition want the election to hold in November but the public is disturbed by information from Congolese authorities which suggests that the election could be delayed as they enroll millions of new voters.
On Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds and made about 20 arrests.
“I am a student. It’s hopeless. All Kodjo (African Union mediator, Edem Kodjo) is doing in this country is to prolong and set up dialogue that will lead to a transition for Kabila to have another mandate. That is why we are saying no, we will fight until the end so that together we can block the road for Kodjo. We say no to this dialogue,” a student protester, Jerry Mwamba said.
For Kabila to continue his mandate, he will have to kill us.
The main opposition parties are boycotting the talks while other parties are participating on condition that Kabila respects the constitution and quits power.
“They are confusing. Kabila’s congress cautioned by Kodjo and dialogue between Congolese. But in the dialogue between the Congolese, what we need there is to talk about security, about the elections and to respect the electoral calendar and specifically respect for the constitution. This is not what they will be talking about over there. There, they are talking about sharing power and the continuation of the Kabila mandate and that is where our people will flood the streets and for Kabila to continue his mandate, he will have to kill us,” Josephe Olenga Koyi, Chair of the FONUS opposition party said.
Joseph Kabila who came to power in 2001 won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011.
Congo’s constitution limits Kabila to two elected terms expected to end in November but the country’s constitutional court says it is not illegal if Kabila stays beyond the end of his mandate in December, until elections are organised.