Congo. According to countryaah, the current population of DR Congo is 89,561,414. The political situation in the country was characterized by whether the elections, which were scheduled to be held in November 2016, would really get rid of. Joseph Kabila, who has been president since 2001 and won the 2006 and 2011 elections, according to the constitution would now have to surrender power but has in various ways tried to postpone his resignation.
In January, the country’s electoral commission made a statement that it would take at least 18 months to update the ballots. According to the government, the constitution would also authorize a president to remain in office until a new one takes office. In May, the Constitutional Court ruled that Kabila could remain in office even after his term expires if no new president had been elected. The opposition, for its part, argued that in that case it would be the chairman of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, who temporarily took over the presidential post until elections could be held.
The opposition reacted strongly to the regime’s attempts to delay the elections and announced during the year several general strikes that partially paralyzed the capital Kinshasa and other parts of the country. Protesters were fought by police with tear gas and several opposition supporters were arrested. In February, six activists were sentenced to two years in prison for preparing for a revolt since participating in the organization of a general strike that month. The sentence was later reduced to six months in prison.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of DRC stands for the nation of Democratic Republic of the Congo in geography.
In May, Moïse Katumbi announced that he had agreed to become the opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential election. The regime’s response was that the Minister of Justice explained that Katumbi was suspected of having hired foreign mercenaries as his private bodyguards and was therefore under investigation, data that Katumbi dismissed as a lie. When police surrounded his house in the city of Lubumbashi, Katumbi asked UN troops for protection, which also struck a ring around the house. Later that month, Katumbi was forced to go to a hospital after police fired tear gas at him and his supporters. The week after, he was indicted on his denial. Katumbi then traveled to South Africa, officially to seek care, but the media reported that the real reason was fear. In June, Katumbi was sentenced in his absence to three years in prison for selling a property he did not own.
In June, the opposition also formed a new alliance on the initiative of Étienne Tschisékédi, who leads the leading opposition party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) and who challenged Kabila in the 2011 presidential election. The month after, Tschisékédi returned to Congo after two years in exile and received of a cheering crowd. Just a few days later, a demonstration was organized in Kinshasa where at least 50,000 people expressed their support for President Kabila.
During the autumn, the situation became increasingly tense and up to 20 protesters were killed by security forces in connection with a protest march in September (the opposition spoke of over 50 casualties). UPDS headquarters were burned down and other opposition party premises were attacked. In mid-October, it was announced that the government and several smaller opposition parties have agreed to postpone the elections until April 2018. Until then, Kabila will remain as president. As a reason for postponing the elections, it was stated that new voters could register. The Election Commission submitted a request for the election move to the Constitutional Court, which gave its approval. In November, Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon replaced the Prime Minister’s post with former UPDS politician Samy Badibanga.
In parallel with the political turmoil, the eastern parts of the country continued to be ravaged by violence. In August, residents in the area around the city of Beni in the province of Northern Kivu demonstrated. The protesters accused the Kinshasa government of not doing enough to protect them from attacks by the armed groups active in the area. The demonstration was held since at least 30 people were killed in a small village. According to thereligionfaqs, suspected perpetrators were the Ugandan rebel movement ADF, which has bases in eastern Congo-Kinshasa.
In June, former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The events took place in 2002–03 in the Central African Republic, where Bemba sent soldiers from the rebel movement he previously led and which would help Central African President Ange-Félix Patassé defeat a coup attempt.