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.
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.
East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade
Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.
Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.
The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.
According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.
Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.
Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.
Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine
A French court has ruled against Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a year – long embezzlement process launched by a group of anti-corruption NGOs
Obiang was ordered to pay a $32.9 million fine. He also faces a suspended jail term of three years after a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money
Additionally, the Paris appeals court confirmed the seizure of his property, including a six-level mansion in Paris which had been valued at €107 million in 2012.
According to Marc-Andre Feffer of Transparency International France, the ruling is an important moment.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
His legal team has one final option for appeal left — they could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.
DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner
A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country’s artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, according to the country’s minister of mines, Willy Kitobo Samsoni.
DRC currently produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of which is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output.
The country recently granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.
According to Samsoni, the easiest way out is to be financed by the Congolese state, but if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, it will then have to enter into partnership with a company.
He also adds that plans for talks with financiers are on ground.
Samsoni further adds that the new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) will be managed independently by state mining company,Gecamines.
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