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Student protests in the DR Congo have left four dead1 min read

Presidency says the police officer who “ordered to shoot the peaceful students” will be brought before a military court.

Kathleen Ndongmo

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Opposition protesters on the streets of Kinshasa - AFP

Three students and a police officer died in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo during weekend clashes at a protest over water and power outages, according to an updated death toll by the presidency on Monday.

The violence was sparked after a large area including Lubumbashi university was left without water and electricity for three days because of damage caused to vital cables and pipes by torrential rains.

The students were also demonstrating over higher fees.

Clashes broke out on Sunday after police used tear gas and warning shots to try to disperse crowds of students returning from the governor’s residence in Upper Katanga.

“The provisional figures established by officials report four deaths including three students and a policeman,” said Vital Kamerhe, chief of staff of new president Felix Tshisekedi, in a statement.

Tshisekedi was sworn in last Thursday, marking DR Congo’s first peaceful handover of power but only after chaotic and bitterly disputed elections.

Runner-up Martin Fayulu has dismissed the result as a stitch-up between Tshisekedi and outgoing president Joseph Kabila, who ruled DR Congo for 18 years.

The police officer who “ordered to shoot the peaceful students without warning” will be brought before a military court “to face the rigour of the law,” the statement said.

It added that increases to academic fees paid by the university’s 10,000 students had been “suspended”.

Water and electricity supplies have been restored to the university campus, according to students.

Earlier police reports had said one student was shot dead and a police officer died after being hit by an anti-riot vehicle.

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Central Africa News

Rebels in DR Congo kill 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives

Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country,

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Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country, a local official said on Saturday.

The latest killings, which occurred in the night from Friday to Saturday, take the total number of those killed in revenge attacks in the past two weeks to more than 30.

The attacks took place in two locations in the Beni region of the North Kivu province where the Congolese army last month announced an offensive to root out insurgents belonging to the Islamist-inspired rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a militia of Ugandan origin that has long operated in the border region.

Beni administrator Donat Kibwana said the attackers used machetes and knives and were believed to have gone on to loot shops and homes.

The army said on October 30 it had launched “large-scale operations”, including shelling and troop deployments, aimed at ridding the area of armed groups. 

But the civilian death toll in ADF attacks has been rising, and residents have accused the army of focusing their efforts on the wrong areas. 

“It’s a complicated situation because the population is the target of ADF revenge attacks against army operations,” said Teddy Kataliko, president of the Beni Civil Society.

The ADF, which has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995, is accused of having killed hundreds or even thousands of civilians in the Beni region in the past five years.

The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed some of the ADF’s recent attacks but there is no clear evidence of any affiliation between them. 

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Angolan parliament suspends ex-President’s daughter, Welwitschia dos Santos

Nicknamed “Tchize”, Welwitschia was elected to parliament in 2008 and joined the central committee of the ruling MPLA in 2016

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Angolan parliament suspends ex-President's daughter, Welwitschia dos Santos

Angola’s parliament has suspended a daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for “unjust enrichment” as his successor seeks to crack down on nepotism past and present.

Dos Santos appointed several family members to key economic and political positions during his 38-year rule, which ended after he stepped down in September 2017.

Welwitschia dos Santos, nicknamed “Tchize”, was elected to parliament in 2008 and joined the central committee of the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in 2016.

The National Assembly late on Tuesday voted to suspend Welwitschia — one of the ex-president’s six children — from parliament, saying her absenteeism from the body amounted to “unjust enrichment”.

READ: Angola withdraws real estate contract awarded to Isabel dos Santos

Tchize, the former president’s second daughter, moved to Britain last year after claiming Angola’s secret services were threatening her.

Lower profile than her half-sister Isabel — a billionaire businesswoman appointed to head the state oil company during her father’s reign — Tchize was an influential figure in Angolan media and controlled one of the country’s leading advertising agencies.

From Britain, Tchize has repeatedly used WhatsApp to blast her father’s successor Joao Lourenco.

In her latest recording, she accused parliament of political persecution and claimed she did not choose to leave Angola.

“I had to flee because I was being threatened with death by the MPLA,” Tchize said via WhatsApp on Tuesday.

“I am completely censured by public press and even by most private media (outlets) controlled by people linked to the regime,” she added.  

The MPLA had already threatened to suspend Tchize’s mandate in May for spending more than 90 consecutive days abroad.

Lourenco has launched a large-scale purge of the administration and public companies, mainly targeting dos Santos’ relatives.

The President dismissed Isabel dos Santos from her position as chair of state oil company Sonangol two months after he took office.

READ: Cabinda separatists accuse Angola’s president of ‘persecution’

Her brother, Jose Filomeno who was appointed in 2013 by his father as head of Angola’s sovereign fund, was also dismissed from his post in January 2018.

Most members of the dos Santos family have moved abroad.     

Lourenco is struggling to wean Angola’s economy off of oil, which accounts for one-third of the country’s GDP and more than 90 per cent of exports.

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At least 28,000 Central Africans rendered homeless by major flooding

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At least 28,000 Central Africans rendered homeless by major flooding
This aerial photograph shows houses flooded by water, in Bangui, on October 28, 2019. - Decadal floods are commonplace on the Oubangui River, but it has been the highest in 20 years, according to the head of the Central African Red Cross, which has left 28,000 people homeless due to rising water levels. (Photo by FLORENT VERGNES / AFP)

The worst flooding in two decades in the Central African Republic has left at least 28,000 people homeless, the country’s Red Cross said Tuesday, with the government calling the disaster a “huge natural catastrophe”.

Torrential rains have pounded the country for several days, causing the Oubangui River and its tributaries to overflow.

“The latest toll is 28,000 people made homeless” across the former French colony, Central African Red Cross president Antoine Mbao-bogo told reporters, adding that entire neighbourhoods are “underwater”.

In the capital Bangui, with a population of about one million, mud homes have literally dissolved in the floods.

“Today our country, and not just the city of Bangui, faces a huge natural catastrophe,” government spokesman Ange-Maxime Kazagui said in a television address late Monday.

At least 28,000 Central Africans rendered homeless by major flooding
A student tries to return home by crossing the streets flooded by the water, in Bangui. (Photo by FLORENT VERGNES / AFP)

“The Oubangui River has burst its banks, and its tributaries can no longer flow into it, creating a phenomenon of massive overflow.”

The country’s main river overflows about once a decade, with a 1999 disaster causing major destruction — but Mbao-bogo said the current flooding is even worse.

“Add to that the deep poverty of our compatriots,” he said.

With more than two-thirds of the country controlled by militias fighting the government or each other, about a quarter of the population have fled their homes.

Kazagui said Bangui residents living on the banks of the Oubangui had been hit especially hard.

At least 28,000 Central Africans rendered homeless by major flooding
Children displaced by rising waters play in makeshift shelters in Bangui- (Photo by FLORENT VERGNES / AFP)

“Drinking water is lacking. There are problems with latrines, mosquitos, cold and the risk of epidemics such as cholera,” he said.

“We don’t have the infrastructure to shelter people, but we expect that NGOs will provide tents and shelters,” Kazagui said.

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