Two days after thousands of pro-government supporters gathered at Tata Raphael Stadium in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, in a show of solidarity with President Joseph Kabila, tens of thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets on Sunday calling for Kabila’s resignation.
They want the 45-year-old President to honor the country’s constitution and retire once his second term comes to an end in December, according to Deutsche Welle.
Many observers have warned of possible political unrest in DRC following the government’s announcement that it doesn’t have resources to run the coming elections in November.
Congolese opposition leaders fear that President Kabila could be planning to hold on to power despite the rules stated in the constitution.
“The electoral body must be convened for the presidential election. If it is not, high treason will be proved in the person of Mr. Kabila, who will take responsibility for the misery of the Congolese people,” said DRC’s main opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.
Led by 83-year-old Tshisekedi, who returned a few days ago from Europe where he’s been undergoing medical treatment, the protesters waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans as they marched through the streets of Kinshasa on Sunday.
Down the Burundi Way
With the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo just around the corner, political tensions are rising between the government and the opposition.
In May, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that President Kabila could stay in office in a caretaker capacity when his term comes to an end in December, sparking fears that he could be planning to extend his rule.
Some critics have warned that the Congo could be headed the Burundian way, where hundreds have already died and half a million others displaced following President Nkurunziza’s decision to extend his rule for a disputed third term.
Tshisekedi has also called for the end of arbitrary judicial cases against opposition leaders in the country. He was referring to Moise Katumbi, who was sentenced last week to three years in jail for property fraud, automatically disqualifying him from the upcoming presidential election.
President Kabila rose to the country’s helm of power in 2001 after his father, President Laurent-Desire Kabila, was assassinated.
The youthful president was then elected into office in 2006 and reelected in 2011, beating Tshisekedi in a closely contested election.
According to the constitution, Kabila is not eligible to run for a third term.