Democratic Republic of Congo nationals living in South Africa are threatening to take things into their own hands and remove their ambassador in Pretoria from office should President Joseph Kabila not step down on Monday.
Ilunga Mpanga Kazadi, a Gauteng-based Congolese community leader, said “we will go to the ambassador on Tuesday and ask him to hand over his credentials, and then he must go”.
Kazadi said “we want that regime (in the DRC) to go”. He accused Kabila’s government of brutality and murder.
DRC ambassador Bene M’poko said opposition supporters in South Africa have threatened to set fire to the embassy. “They are talking about burning and occupying this building. There have already been attacks at the embassy in Paris (France) and Morocco.
“People have a right to protest, but they must do it peacefully. Don’t destroy property and human lives just because you disagree.”
Kazadi said there have already been marches to the embassy a couple of weeks ago, and pressure would be stepped up this week to try force Kabila to step down.
Social media and internet
An estimated 800 000 Congolese people are living in South Africa at the moment, but anecdotal evidence suggests many DRC citizens were planning to spend an extended Christmas break in South Africa and other neighbouring countries fearing widespread violence from next week onwards.
Opposition protests in Kinshasa in September have left dozens dead, with the protesters retaliating by burning police officers in turn.
By Friday three days of talks facilitated by the Catholic Church in a last-ditch effort to avert violence next week, have faltered, with opposition and government negotiators having failed to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile a number of countries have advised their citizens against travelling to the DRC.
Belguim has updated its travel advisory to advise “against all travel” to the DRC while condemning the deportation of two Belgian television crews this week.
Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders said in a statement “free gathering of news and freedom of press are fundamental values that cannot be restricted”.
The DRC government has also ordered a shut down of social media and the internet in the country from Monday onwards in an attempt to avert widespread protests and violence. – News24