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Botswana blames Kabila for DRC's humanitarian crisis

Republic of the Congo

Botswana on Monday blamed Congolese President Joseph Kabila for his country’s humanitarian and security crisis.

This is first time an African government has sharply criticised the Congolese President over his refusal to step down.

Botswana’s Ministry of International Affairs in a statement said, the continent continues to witness a worsening humanitarian situation in the DRC mainly because its leader has persistently delayed holding elections, and lost control over the security of his country.

Congo’s foreign minister, Leonard She Okitundu, has declined comment.

DRC emerged in 2003 from a five-year war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease, and the current political crisis has contributed to a surge of conflict , forcing millions to flee their homes.

Botswana’s statement comes after the resignation of Kabila’s close ally Jacob Zuma as South African president added to uncertainty about his standing among key African states.

The statement by Botswana, one of Africa’s most stable democracies, urged “the international community to put more pressure on the leadership in the Democratic Republic of Congo to relinquish power and pave way for the ushering in of a new political dispensation”.

Kabila is facing mounting pressure in the streets to organise prompt elections. Security forces killed at least two people at a church-led march on Sunday. More than a dozen protesters have been killed since December.

Police said on Monday that an officer had been arrested for violating orders by firing a rubber bullet at a protester from too close a range – less than 20 metres (yards), killing him.

However, a doctor at the hospital where the man, pro-democracy activist Rossy Mukendi, died on Sunday, told Reuters he had been hit in the heart by a bullet that had entered and exited his body.

Kabila denies he is trying to cling to power but has refused to publicly rule out trying to change the constitution to remove term limits that prevent him from running for re-election, as the presidents of neighbouring Congo Republic and Rwanda have done.

Congo’s political turmoil has emboldened the dozens of militia groups that operate in its mineral-rich eastern borderlands.


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