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January 20-27, 2015

Weekly Media Monitoring report for The Democratic Republic of Congo
Posted on January 29, 2015


Compiled by Marie Lamensch

Electoral Law, January 17: The National Assembly adopted modifications to the electoral law that would require a national census ahead of the next election. The measure would delay the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016. This led to a week of protests. On January 23, , the Senate adopted an amended version of the law, clarifying that the holding of elections would not be conditional on a census being completed

  • March of support for President Kabila 
  • Protests against Election Law 
  • Politics: Electoral Law
  • Government shuts down Internet and SMS service
March of support for President Kabila
State-owned media

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 17 January 2015, in English)

Une marche de soutien au Chef de l’Etat Joseph Kabila programmée mardi à Lubumbashi

  • A march in support of President Kabila and his peace efforts will take place in Lubumbashi on Tuesday, said the Mayor of the city. The march is “part of the preservation of peace, unity, love and the banishment of a culture of violence, vandalism, intoxication and disinformation.”
Protests against Election Law
State-owned media

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 25 January 2015, in English)

Message de paix, d’amour et de cohésion adressé à la nation congolaise par la ministre du Genre

  • The Minister of Gender, Family and the Child, Bijou Mushitu Kat, expressed her compassion to families affected by the “sad events” that occurred on 19-21 January. She sent a “message of peace, love and cohesion to the Congolese nation.”
  • Congolese people must learn from the errors of the past and cannot plunge into “pillages” again. She urged Congolese people to safeguard the gains of the nation and to protect public and private good. Human lives must be protected and human rights respected. 
  • Bijou Mushitu Kat reiterated President Kabila’s words: “we must focus on tolerance and mutual respect’ in order to establish a peaceful environment for development.
  • She added that women a special responsibility. 

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 22 January 2015, in English)

Le vice-Premier ministre, ministre de l’Intérieur visite quelques sites des manifestations de la ville de Kinshasa

  • The VP Minister and Minister of the Interior Évariste Boshab visited several areas of Kinshasa where violence took place during the protests.
  • There’s considerable damage in Lemba where Chinese shops were systematically pillaged and set on free. The minister assured that the state would “make the authors of these acts pay.”
  • In Ngaba, “barbarity reached its paroxysm.” The municipality’s headquarters were looted, destroyed and set on fire by the protesters, along with service delivery agencies and urban sanitation vehicles. Two shops owned by Chinese people were looted as well.
  • The VP Minister visited the Chinese community who was victim of the violence 
  • He called for calm and condemned political messages inciting chaos.

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 20 January 2015, in English)

Le gouvernement donne le bilan de 3 morts dans les manifestations à Kinshasa

  • Government spokesperson Lambert Mende announced 3 people had died during the protests on Monday, including one police officer. He denied allegations that real bullets had been used by security forces. Incidents occurred in 9 districts out of 24 in Kinshasa.
  • Thirteen police station were burned down and several weapons stolen.
  • In Lemba, Ngaba, Makala, Kalamu, protesters looted shops owned by foreign nationals. The government will make the culprits pay by bringing them to justice and pay reparations. 
  • Groups of youth clashed with police forces. Shots were heard in several parts of the capital.

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 22 January 2015, in English)

Le ministre de l’ESU appelle les étudiants au calme et à l’apaisement

  • The Minister of superior and university education urged calm and appeasement following protests in Kinshasa, in which students largely contributed. “I count on you to establish peace and serenity on your campuses” Mbemba Fundu told students. He condemned those who engaged in acts of pillage.
  • He reminded students that universities are apolitical and deplored the fact that several political parties fail to teach their militants’ about respect. He also condemned the manipulation and intoxication surrounding the amendment of electoral law, affirming the President’s will to respect the Constitution.
Privately/Independent-owned media

(L’Observateur, independent/privately-owned newspaper, article dated 26 January 2015, in English)

  • The democratic expression of the protesters is real but the methods used are risky. Demonstrations are legal but must respect public order and with due dignity. Institutions must be preserved, every one loses when they are destroyed.
  • The government should contain, not repress the demonstrations. Political leaders must understand the sacrifices made by Congolese people in order to get rid of Mobutu’s regime. Leaders should educate and discipline the Congolese people instead of only thinking about power.
  • Deputies should realize that they can no longer make fun of the people

(L’Observateur, independent/privately-owned newspaper, article dated 26 January 2015, in English)

Eventuelles représailles contre les Congolais vivant en Chine, le Gouvernement congolais dément toutes les rumours

  • Following three days of protest in Kinshasa, which included systematic pillage of shops owned by Chinese individuals and other expats, there were rumours of reprisals against Congolese people in China.
  • According to “malicious rumours”, several Congolese expats in China have been abused and even killed. These rumours only seek to aggravate the situation between Congolese people and expats in the DRC.
  • The government issued a communiqué denying these rumours.
Foreign Media

(Democratic Alliance, liberal party in South Africa, 26 January, 2015)

South Africa: AU Should Mediate to End Violent DRC Protests Press release

  • The DA called on the African Union “to mediate to ensure an end of bloody protests” in Kinshasa. 42 people have died in the protests against the proposed amendment to electoral law (the amendment would postpone the 2016 elections).
  • “We cannot stand by and watch while democracy is being undermined for suspicious gains by any individual.”

(Human Rights Watch, international human rights organization, 24 January, 2015)

Congo-Kinshasa: Deadly Crackdown On Protests - Halt Unlawful Shootings, Arrests

  • Human Rights Watch condemned the government use of “unlawful and excessive force to crack down on protests”. HRW confirmed that 36 people were killed. Security force shot 21 one of them.
  • Demonstrations were held in several cities (Kinshasa, Bukavu, Bunia, Goma, Lubumbashi, Mbandaka, and Uvira) and turned violent after security force demonstrations turned violent into the crowds of protesters. According to HRW, security force took some of the bodies away in an attempt to remove evidence. 
  • Demonstrators threw rocks at security force. They also “looted and burned shops and offices of perceived government supporters”
  • Opposition leaders urged their supporters to take part in the demonstrations.

(News of Rwanda, state-controlled media, Rwanda, dated 22 January, 2015)

Rwanda-DRC Border Tense Amid Deadly Riots, Congolese Flee in Massive

  • Hundreds of Congolese crossed into Rwanda as a result of the protests there. Bukavu has been declared as “a dead city” by civil society groups.
  • While Bukavu Mayor, Filemon Mulolo, insists that “nothing big happened”, there was vandalism and looting.
  • Three people were killed in Goma.
  • Mobs are against the bill considered as “plan to extend Kabila's rule".
  • In Rubavu, riots triggered panic “as police swept on the streets shooting live bullets and tear gas.”
  • Many Congolese have started crossing the border into Rwanda and are seeking temporary stay.
  • Rwandan security forces are on alter in case violence spills over. Some Congolese have reportedly started seeking a temporary stay in Rwanda"
  • "We just remind our people that our army is firm to defend the country's sovereignty in case someone attempts to threaten it," Rubavu mayor said.

(The News Times, state-controlled media, Rwanda, dated 23 January, 2015)

Congo-Kinshasa: Ban Ki Moon Condemns DRC Violence, Calls for Dialogue

  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon condemned the violence in the DRC and deplored the loss of life. He called on national security forces and demonstrators to refrain from violence. "Demonstrations should be conducted in a peaceful manner. While violence is not acceptable, the response to violent protests must also be proportionate.”
Politics: Electoral Law
State-owned media

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 22 January 2015, in English)

Le président de l’Assemblée nationale promet de gérer toutes les modifications de la loi électorale avec responsability

  • The president of the National Assembly said his bureau would careful manage any amendments made to the electoral law before it is adopted. Aubin Minaku said the debate should take place in the Assembly not on the streets, and denounced the aggression of several national deputies.
  • Aubin Minaku also denounced the attitude of several political actors who instrumentalized young people and spread false and biased information in the media.
  • Minaku added that the amendment made to the electoral law only seek to improve the electoral framework of the DRC.
Privately/Independent-owned media

(L’Observateur, independent/privately-owned newspaper, article dated 26 January 2015, in English)

Après les troubles de Kinshasa, la Majorité et l’Opposition condamnées à un compromis

  • As a result of the violent protests, many schools, administrative building, agencies and embassies were closed. Few media houses were able to issue newspapers.
  • There were acts of vandalism. Young protesters targeted Chinese merchants in particular, even though they have not involved in the Parliament’s affairs.
  • Students clashes with the police at Kinshasa University. Calm only returned once the senators decided to amend article 8, the article at the centre of the discord between the Majority and the Opposition.
  • According to the government’s figures, these disturbances caused the death of 11 people but organisations say 48 were killed.
  • The DRC’s partner’s asked the Opposition and the Majority to find a compromise and called for appeasement.
  • Civil society groups deplored arrests and abuses that occurred during the demonstrations. Activist Christopher Ngoy Mutamba was “abducted” on 21 January and his centre of detention remains unknown. Civil society wants an investigation and called for mobilization.
  • There was trouble in Goma (North-Kivu), Bukavu (South-Kivu) and Butembo (North-Kivu).
  • Politicians should spare the population of this conflict. The VP Minister announced that the census is not a conditionality for the 2016 elections. The Majority and the Opposition must find consensus, minimize “minor points of disagreement” and think about the interest of the nation.

(L’Observateur, independent/privately-owned newspaper, article dated 26 January 2015, in English)

La loi électorale adoptée en termes identiques par les 2 chambres du Parlement : Kabila désamorce la crise

  • The two chambers of Parliament have finally found consensus on article 8 of the new electoral law. The divergence over some of the content of the article has been eliminated all together, in large part thanks to the Majority and President Kabila who wished to prevent more violence.
  • The president of the Parliament deplored the destruction of State symbols during the protests. He also denounced the “act of barbarism” against a deputy of the Majority, whose house was sacked.
Foreign Media

(News of Rwanda, state-controlled media, Rwanda, dated 23 January, 2015)

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Senate Rejects Kabila Proposal to Extend His Rule

  • The Congolese Senate “thwarted President Joseph Kabila's extended rule plans” by voting against the electoral bill which would have postponed the 2016 presidential elections. Article 8 has been reformulated.
  • “Kabila was pushing for a delayed vote to conduct a "reliable" national census”.
  • As a result of the protests against Kabila and the electoral law, “hundred” of Congolese Goma and Rubavu fled to Rwanda.
Government shuts down Internet and SMS service
State-owned media

(Agence Congolaise Presse, government-owned news agency, article dated 22 January 2015, in English)

Le Vice- premier ministre, ministre des PT-NTIC se préoccupe du rétablissement du signal Internet

  • The minister in charge of telecommunication and telecommunications companies discussed the restoration of the internet and SMS which were cut for several days for security reasons. The minister explained the reasons behind the government’s measure.
Foreign Media

(Committee to Protect Journalists, independent, nonprofit organization, 22 January, 2015)

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Halts Internet Access and Cellphone Services Amid Protests

  • The Committee to Protect Journalist condemns the decision to shut down internet access and SMS service for mobile phones throughout the DRC following demonstrations and deadly clashes with the police.
  • Internet service was partially restored but not SMS service and social media sites. 
  • According to a Congolese the measure is legal and helps prevent more protests.
  • However, CPJ's Africa Program Coordinator stated that "By shutting down Internet and messaging services and blocking websites, Congolese authorities are denying citizens their fundamental right to communicate and to receive and impart information”
  • Authorities fired shots at protesters. Hundreds have been arrested. Some reports say as many as 42 may have been killed.
  • The CPJ reminds that in November authorities called for the shutdown of several radio stations, accusing them of incitement. A radio reporter was also killed in December.
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