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1 dead as police break up banned marches in DR Congo2 minutes read

Policeman wounded in the Goma unrest following “resistance” to police efforts to disperse the marchers

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1 dead as police move to prevent banned marches

A protester died after being shot at a march in Goma in the DR Congo Sunday as police dispersed hundreds of anti-government protesters in Kinshasa and President Felix Tshisekedi warned against “anarchy”.

Police and organisers said the man was shot at a banned march in Goma in the east to mark the 59th anniversary of the central African country’s independence from Belgium. “One person seriously wounded by gunshot died in hospital,” national police spokesman Pierrot Mwanamputu said, while an opposition youth official said: “They fired real bullets.”

Mwanamputu said a policeman was wounded in the Goma unrest adding there was “resistance” to police efforts to disperse the marchers. Provincial police commissioner Placide Nyembo told AFP some of the demonstrators were armed.

An opposition youth official, Robert Zibawanza, said some militants torched a commuter minibus. In Kinshasa, police used tear gas to break up another banned march and about 50 officers blocked a car transporting former presidential candidate Martin Fayulu and ex-prime minister Adolphe Muzito.

An AFP journalist saw police using bayonets to puncture three of the car’s tyres. The two men emerged from the car to talk to Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo as some demonstrators tried to group around them.

On Saturday, Tshisekedi said he backed a decision to ban the march planned by his former opposition comrades, pointing to violence that broke out last weekend.

No repression

Speaking in his first major interview since taking office early this year, Tshisekedi – son of opposition icon Etienne Tshisekedi – told French media: “We have the impression that there are some who confuse democracy with anarchy.”

He vowed there would be “no repression”, asserting that: “The security forces are trained to keep the peace.” Last Sunday, as opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba flew back into the country, police fired tear gas at rock-throwing protesters who targeted his convoy.

Before being elected president, Tshisekedi inherited the mantle of opposition leader from his father Etienne, who died in February 2017. Sunday’s march was called by Bemba and Fayulu, who maintains he was robbed of victory in the country’s December 30 presidential election.

Their Lamuka coalition said late Friday it would go ahead with the march to protest the constitutional court’s invalidation of the election of about 20 opposition lawmakers. Kasongo had warned that any gatherings of more than 10 people would be dispersed.

On Sunday, he said there had been “no major incidents” in Kinshasa where “all those arrested were immediately released” apart from one protester who remains in detention for “attacking and wounding” a police officer.

He was then jailed by the International Criminal Court based in The Hague for alleged atrocities carried out by his troops in the Central African Republic. But he was finally acquitted and freed on appeal in June 2018, when he returned to Belgium. Protests were also reported in the western city of Bandudu, the fief of both Fayulu and Muzito.

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Congo’s state- owned miner, Gecamines challenges court’s ruling

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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned copper and cobalt miner, Gecamines is challenging a ruling by a local court that it owes an Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, a $168 million loan.

Gertler’s Fleurette Mumi Holdings Ltd. offered a 200 million-euro line of credit to Gecamines in October 2017, two months before he was sanctioned by the U.S. government for alleged corruption related to Congo deals.

Gecamines announced in a statement that Fleurette Mumi has since changed its name to Ventora Development Sasu, one of Gertler’s companies, following the sanction.

Last month, a Lubumbashi-based commercial court ordered Gecamines to repay the principal loan and interest to Ventora Development Sasu, one of Gertler’s companies singled out by the U.S. sanctions.

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Militia behead 16 people in new DR Congo massacre – civil society

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Suspected militia fighters have decapitated 16 people in a new village massacre near Beni in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, civil society sources said Friday.

Three more civilians were wounded in Beni town by an explosive device on Thursday night, an official source said, in a new tactic in a region beset by militia violence for decades.

The killings on Thursday in the Mbau region north of Beni have been blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia group responsible for a string of massacres since the start of November.

“Sixteen decapitated bodies have been found in searches that started in the evening,” Jamal Moussa, spokesman for the network of civil society organisations in Mbau said.

The massacre targeted the small village of Mantumbi.

“The ADF terrorists attacked in daylight (on Thursday), first in the bush where people were in their fields, and then in the village,” Moussa said.

DR Congo forces launched operations against the ADF in the eastern region at the end of October. But in response, the ADF has carried out massacres, in an apparent bid to discourage civilians from helping the military.

At least 100 people have been killed since November 5 in attacks blamed on the ADF, an Islamist-rooted militia with origins in Uganda.

No military sources would officially confirm Thursday’s report, but the Congolese army and UN troops deployed to the vast country have announced joint operations against ADF forces in the Beni region.

Another civil society group, Lucha, reported a toll of at least nine people killed near Mbau.

The administrative chief of Rwenzori, one of the four districts of the town, Alois Mbwarara,  said two passengers on a motorbike reportedly threw an explosive device which blew up in the market, wounding three people.

“The ADF, on the run from the Congolese army, now uses their stooges in the town for acts of sabotage,” he said. 

The army is analysing debris to determine whether it was a homemade bomb or a hand grenade.”

The last time an explosive device was used in Beni was in 2007, the official added.

The Congolese army has discovered “a factory for large-scale production of homemade bombs” at a seized ADF camp, military spokesman General Leon Richard Kasonga said on Wednesday.

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What’s in it for Africa at the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Spain?

The highpoint of the COP25 for Africa is the “Africa Day”, which is slated for December 10

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What's in it for Africa at the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Spain?
Participants pose for a family photo within the 2019 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25), held in Madrid, Spain on December 02, 2019. Burak Akbulut / AFP

African delegates will seek to push for changes at the 2019 annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, which officially kicked off on Monday, December 3, in Madrid, Spain.

About 29,000 visitors are expected at the conference that holds from 2 to 13 December 2019, including 50 heads of state. The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the meeting’s urgency, saying that the climate crisis could soon reach the “point of no return.”

READ: Ugandan children boycott school to march for climate change action

At COP25, delegates from 197 countries are expected to nail down some details left open by the 2015 Paris climate accord, including how carbon-trading systems and compensation for poor countries with rising sea levels will work.

Being signatories to the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have shown commitments to enhance climate actions by putting practical measures and building resilience in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

READ: How climate change is draining Lake Malawi and local fishing economy

Like the previous COP summits, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is present in Madrid to support regional member countries through its support to the African group of negotiators and through advocacy to make Africa’s voice heard in the global stage.

The highpoint of the COP25 for Africa is the “Africa Day”, which is slated for December 10, and will focus on concerted global action on climate change to attain a new Africa.

The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Brazil and then Chile, but the election of President Jair Bolsonaro and the protests in Santiago changed those plans. Spain agreed to host last month.

READ: Uganda’s teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action

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