The Lubumbashi (Haut-Katanga) government refused to authorize a planned protest in support of Moïse Katumbi's failed presidential campaign on Saturday, August 18. The mayor rejected the request for a demonstration on the grounds that Katumbi's campaign was not valid and asked that supporters of the politician "wait for the scheduled time." Security forces also deployed beginning Friday night (local time), August 16, near the Lubumbashi home of Katumbi's political ally.
Moïse Katumbi is the former governor of Katanga province in the southeast. He fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016 and was sentenced in absentia for fraud. Katumbi has attempted to return to the DRC twice to register as a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections but was turned away by immigration officials. The deadline for registering as a candidate passed on August 8. The DRC is set to hold presidential elections on December 23, 2018. Incumbent President Joseph Kabila previously announced he would not run for re-election, setting up the December elections to be the first peaceful transition of civilian governments.
Opposition protests and rallies in Lubumbashi and other areas of the DRC often result in violent clashes with security forces or mass arrests. Previous pro-Kutumbi protests in Tabacongo and Matshipisha were met with tear gas and live ammunition and an August 4 welcome party for Kutumbi's attempted return led to the arrest of more than 71 demonstrators.
Individuals in the DRC, particularly Haut-Katanga province, should monitor the situation, maintain a high degree of situational awareness, and avoid all rallies and demonstrations due to the risk of violence.
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