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Opposition Calls For Democratic Republic Of The Congo's President To Step Down

Apr 12, 2017
Originally published on April 12, 2017 8:13 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To the Democratic Republic of Congo next, where political tension is mounting. Opposition is calling for the president to step down. A peace deal has stalled. Here's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Planned nationwide protests against DR Congo's president fell flat this week after the authorities banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Instead, the normally bustling capital, Kinshasa, was a ghost town. But that won't stop opposition to President Joseph Kabila says Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Congolese political analyst at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

GEORGES NZONGOLA-NTALAJA: He is in power because of force. He controls the force and the fact that the international community has allowed that to continue.

QUIST-ARCTON: After 16 years in power, Kabila's two-term presidential limit expired in December. The opposition accuses him of delaying overdue elections last year to buy time. Failure to hold a vote led to protests and a deadly crackdown.

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QUIST-ARCTON: Ceremonial guards stand to attention ahead of a rare address to Parliament by President Kabila last week.

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PRESIDENT JOSEPH KABILA: (Foreign language spoken).

QUIST-ARCTON: Kabila pledged to hold elections, salvage political deal mediated by influential Catholic bishops and appoint a prime minister from the opposition. That last move has split the opposition, which rejects the new prime minister they say was unilaterally named by Kabila. The opposition says Bruno Tshibala does not represent them and was kicked out of the alliance last month. Again, Congolese analyst Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja.

NZONGOLA-NTALAJA: The people in Kinshasa are up in arms against this decision

QUIST-ARCTON: Kabila has warned against foreign meddling in Congo's affairs but he's under fire from the Trump administration. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is talking tough about Congo, questioning the U.N. peacekeeping mission's relationship with the Kabila leadership.

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NIKKI HALEY: The government is corrupt. In other words, the U.N. is aiding a government that is inflicting predatory behavior against its own people.

QUIST-ARCTON: Congo watchers say the Catholic Church must again step in to try to end the political stalemate. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR news, Dakar. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.