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DRC: Following Joseph Kabila’s example, Felix Tshisekedi bans opposition marches

From left to right, Martin Fayulu, Delly Sesanga, Augustin Matata Ponyo and Moïse Katumbi decided at a press conference on Friday, May 12, to reschedule the big opposition march in Kinshasa for Saturday, May 20 © Congo Libéré

An opposition march scheduled for Saturday, May 13 in Kinshasa was cancelled at the last minute by the Governor of Kinshasa, a supporter of Felix Tshisekedi. It will finally take place on Saturday, May 20, after consultation with its main organizers: Moïse Katumbi, Martin Fayulu, Augustin Matata Ponyo and Delly Sessanga.

The trick is the same as the one used at the time by Joseph Kabila.

Fearing the massive mobilization of the population, a sign of its unpopularity, the regime of Felix Tshisekedi has banned, through the governor of the province of Kinshasa, Gentiny Ngobila, the opposition march planned for this Saturday, May 13, at the initiative of four opposition leaders: Moïse Katumbi, Martin Fayulu, Augustin Matata Ponyo and Delly Sessanga.

As under Joseph Kabila, the march was cancelled at the last minute (the day before the planned date) under a vague pretext (« for security reasons »). The governor of Kinshasa has only authorized it for the following week, on Thursday, May 18.

« These are the same methods as under Joseph Kabila. They cancel the march at the last minute and postpone it, not during another weekend but during the week. All this has only one goal: to try to demobilize the population. Felix Tshisekedi knows he is unpopular. Like his predecessor, whose footsteps he is following, he is doing everything to try to hide it, » explains a person close to Martin Fayulu.

De facto ban

« This stratagem allows to say that the march is not forbidden because it is authorized but later. They are playing on words because, in reality, it is a de facto ban. And everyone is well aware that between the government, which sees its demonstrations authorized without difficulty, and the opposition, which sees its own prohibited or disrupted, there is a double standard. This is a sign that the rule of law does not exist in the DRC, » says an aide to Augustin Matata Ponyo.

Following a meeting on Friday, May 12 at noon, the main opposition leaders took note of the postponement. They simply refused the date proposed by the governor (a Thursday, a weekday). They rescheduled the march for Saturday, May 20. « We did not want children, women and the elderly in particular to be gassed or molested. This regime, like the previous one, is capable of anything, » says a source.

The opposition now has one more week to mobilize the population, which is wavering between resignation and anger in the face of increasingly difficult daily life.