While the demonstration, after having been banned for the first time last Saturday, had this time been authorized, the police and the army, deployed en masse, prevented the demonstrators from gathering this Saturday, May 20, in Kinshasa. At the cost of extreme violence that recalls the darkest hours of Joseph Kabila’s regime.
If we needed yet another proof that in the DRC, nothing has changed with the arrival in power of Felix Tshisekedi, today’s events have tragically come to provide it.
Just as under Joseph Kabila, whose twilight regime was held together in recent years only by the violence of the forces of law and order, the regime of Félix Tshisekedi seems to be following the same path.
This Saturday, May 20, in Kinshasa, the Congolese DR power has repressed, with a degree of violence that has nothing to envy to that recorded in 2016-2018, the large demonstration of the opposition.
Opposition leaders and demonstrators blocked
Fearing a show of force by the opposition, the regime of Felix Tshisekedi deployed thousands of police and military personnel to prevent the opposition demonstration, although authorized by the governor (pro-Tshisekedi) of Kinshasa, from taking place.
In the morning, the main opposition leaders, Moïse Katumbi, Martin Fayulu, Augustin Matata Ponyo and Dely Sesanga, who initiated the demonstration to protest against the high cost of living, the war in the east and the prospect of rigged elections, were prevented from gathering at the place planned for the departure of the procession.
Unprecedented violence, several injured and possibly more
The same treatment is reserved for the demonstrators who have begun to pour in from all parts of the city.
To carry out their task, the police did not hesitate to use tear gas, to shoot live ammunition to disperse the crowd and to brutalize in a very violent – and extremely shocking – way the demonstrators (see this video), including families and children (see this video). There have also been reports of beatings involving police and supporters of the government.
Several opponents were arrested before the march even began, including Bienvenu Matumo of La Lucha and an executive of Envol, the party of Martin Fayulu.
This Sunday morning, the most credible sources already counted hundreds of injured, many of them in serious condition.
Some sources are also reporting deaths. Checks are underway to establish a first assessment.
A before and after for Félix Tshisekedi
In the meantime, this demonstration has undoubtedly claimed another victim, a symbolic one: Felix Tshisekedi. For the Congolese DR president, who claimed in 2019 to anyone who would listen that he would establish democracy in the DRC, there will be a before and after May 20, 2023.
On the one hand, he has just joined the long list of ex-opponents on the continent who, once in power, behave in a way equal to, or even worse than, that of their predecessors. On the other hand, to lose the little respectability that still remained. For sure, this Saturday in Kinshasa, Felix has finished dishonoring Etienne.
P.S: this article may be updated throughout the day