Major opposition rally banned in Congo after Kabila ruling

Wednesday May 25 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila attends a meeting on January 19, 2015 in Kinshasa. PHOTO | AFP

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila attends a meeting on January 19, 2015 in Kinshasa. PHOTO | AFP 

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Public demonstrations have been banned in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Tuesday, ahead of a planned opposition rally to denounce a controversial court ruling allowing President Joseph Kabila to remain in power beyond his mandate.

Protests were prohibited in North Kivu province in the east and the second city of Lubumbashi after the alliance called for nationwide protests following the Constitutional Court decision this month to let Kabila remain in a caretaker capacity after the expiry of his term in December.

Julien Paluku, governor of violence-wracked North Kivu, said no public rallies would be permitted in the province, according to a press conference broadcast online.

He said after 20 years of unrest in the region, it was not appropriate for people to take to the streets.

"North Kivu is in mourning", Paluku said. "According to our traditions, we don't cry for people in the streets, we don't cry for people by protesting."

He dismissed opposition claims that the state "does not exist legally" after the Constitutional Court's decision.

The mayor of Lubumbashi said the planned Thursday demonstrations would also be banned in his municipality.

"The decision of the constitutional court is unassailable," Jean Oscar Sanguza told AFP.

"I cannot authorise a march" against this decision, he added.

The three opposition groups, Dynamic, G7, and Citizens' Front, had called for the protests, which were also set to take place in the capital Kinshasa.

Kabila has been in power since 2001, when he took over after his father's assassination. The younger Kabila was elected president in 2006 and 2011 but is constitutionally barred from standing for a third term.

The president's supporters want the election delayed for two to four years due to logistical and financial difficulties, but the opposition accuses Kabila of planning to amend the constitution to extend his rule.