-> Freedom for all Congolese citizens to demonstrate peacefully, without fear of being killed, wounded or arrested.
In DR Congo, demonstrating to express an opinion is a risk that can result in death. Despite international treaties and agreements and the Constitution, the authorities continue, with few exceptions, to repress all pro-opposition demonstrations and citizen movements.
After the January 2015 protests and the dozens of deaths they involved, the government banned protests throughout the Republic, in violation of constitutional provisions. The banning was reaffirmed the following year after a series of demonstrations on 19 and 20 September 2016 in protest against the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni)’s failure to convene the electoral body. A circular from the Minister of the Interior was also sent to local authorities ordering them to no longer authorise the activities of citizens’ movements, particularly those of Lucha and Filimbi. Since then, with a few exceptions, the police have clamped down on all pro-opposition demonstrations.
Despite the statement by the Minister of Human Rights in Geneva that the ban on demonstrations had been lifted, our in-the-field observations show that only the presidential majority parties demonstrate freely, while opposition and civil society demonstrations are brutally repressed, as the three Christian marches and their share of victims testify. In this electoral period, the government has allowed two opposition rallies to be held in Kinshasa, but it continues to violently repress citizen movement’s activities and ban other pro-opposition demonstrations. Thus, the Constitution is flouted and Joseph Kabila continues to lay down the law of the strongest.
How can we talk about elections when the opposition is deprived of the mere right to protest? How can a campaign be conducted when demonstrations are repressed by the police and the army? Our fear is that we are heading towards elections devoid of equity or equality between the contenders. An electoral process in which the opposition is not able to defend its ideas before the ruling sovereign. In these conditions, we believe the electoral process is tainted in advance and will result in unrest.