In the DRC, tension is mounting between power and opposition

The scene which takes place on the tarmac of Ndjili airport in Kinshasa, Tuesday, May 30, is quite unusual

In the DRC, tension is mounting between power and opposition

The scene which takes place on the tarmac of Ndjili airport in Kinshasa, Tuesday, May 30, is quite unusual. While the December presidential candidate, Moïse Katumbi, is boarding a flight for Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province, his special adviser Salomon Idi Della is roughly arrested by security forces. the order dressed in black and forced to board a 4x4.

“After a month spent in Kinshasa, there were ten of them accompanying Moïse Katumbi to Lubumbashi, but only Mr. Salomon was arrested. For several days, we feared the arrests of members of the opposition, but we do not know what we are accused of ", explains Olivier Kamitatu, the spokesperson for the president of Ensemble pour la République, joined by Le Monde. The former governor of Katanga immediately denounced an "arbitrary and illegal" arrest, summoning "the authorities" to "explain and release him".

The indignation of Moïse Katumbi was immediately followed by that of other members of the Congolese opposition. "Democracy is dead," exclaimed former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon, also a declared presidential candidate. While the ballot is scheduled in seven months, these contenders are now united against the power of President Felix Tshisekedi. And, in turn, denounce their disappointments.

« Intimidation »

Four days before the airport incident, Mr. Mapon had complained about being banned from entering Kikwit (east of Kinshasa), speaking of "intimidation" - he was finally able to hold his meeting. Just before, it was Moïse Katumbi who was prevented from going to the province of Kongo-Central. For several hours, the police blocked the roads of the former governor's motorcade, blocking road traffic and finally forcing the political delegation to turn back. The entourage of the governor of Kongo-Central, Guy Bandu, explained this decision by the security conditions, which do not allow him to hold large-scale political demonstrations.

The tension between Mr. Tshisekedi's power and the opposition has escalated in recent weeks. On May 24, a protest sit-in in front of the Electoral Commission was harshly dispersed when, four days earlier, a demonstration had been severely suppressed. Images of a 12-year-old child being kicked, beaten and slapped by police officers during the parade that day caused a stir.

The European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom… but also the powerful episcopal conference have condemned the excessive use of force by the police against the demonstrators on May 20. Never has Felix Tshisekedi aroused such disapproval since his arrival in early 2019.

Seeking chaos?

Touring hospitals to inquire about the state of health of the wounded, the president acknowledged "excesses" that he blames on the police and the previous regime, led by Joseph Kabila. “You also have to understand that we have a police force that for eighteen years has been stripped of its substance. We recruited young people who we dressed in uniform, but without training, without anything. They were sent to the breakers to make victims and terrorize the population, ”he explained. According to Félix Tshisekedi, the opposition itself has a share of the responsibility: "This police, not very aware, was pushed to the limit by a pack of people who were recruited, paid and perhaps drugged to provoke and attack the police men. »

From China, where he was on a state visit from May 23 to 29, Félix Tshisekedi accused the opposition of working to prevent the holding of elections, while the political class fears a "slip" of the calendar: "I don't don't know what they [the opposition] want. She denounced the Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court. Eventually, she joined the [electoral] process. (…) We don’t know what we want. »

He even accused the opposition of seeking chaos: "This is exactly the same inclination of this horrible neighbor [Rwanda] who wants to destabilize the DRC in the east of the country. They now want to take hotbeds of tension to the heart of Kinshasa while also counting a boiling over on the side of Katanga. We are aware of all this. And we will defend ourselves tooth and nail. »