Clashes between supporters of major political parties took place throughout Kinshasa on Saturday, March 16, a day after the country hosted local elections. Opposition party leader Franck Diongo of the Mouvement Lumumbiste Progressiste (MLP) led a march from the Makala prison, where he was released on Saturday morning (local time), to his party's headquarters in the Kasa-Vubu area of Kinshasa; protesters set fire to tires and erected makeshift roadblocks along the route. MLP supporters subsequently marched to the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) offices in the Limete area, where clashes were reported.
Unrest has also been reported outside the offices of the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) on Boulevard Sendwe in Kinshasa; UPDS supporters reportedly ransacked the PPRD office on Saturday. American diplomatic authorities have also indicated protests were reported in the Gombe area and embassy personnel have been directed to shelter in place. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are to be expected over the coming hours and days.
President Felix Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) party failed to receive a majority in local elections on March 15; former President Joseph Kabila's coalition Common Front for Congo (FCC) won roughly two-thirds in the country's senate. On election day, clashes were reported in Kinshasa and Kasai-Oriental province, with at least one person killed in the unrest. This comes as Tshisekedi pardoned and ordered the release of roughly 700 political prisoners on March 13, reversing imprisonments by his predecessor Kabila, in an attempt to appease opposition parties. Gubernatorial elections are slated to take place on March 26.
DRC held long-awaited general elections on December 30, 2018, to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who was ineligible to run for another term. There were numerous allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation and several people were killed in election-related violence. Felix Tshisekedi was declared winner of the presidential elections with 38.57 percent of the vote, followed by runner-up Martin Fayulu from the Lamuka opposition party with 34.83 percent. Fayulu has since then denounced the results, claiming he initially won the presidential elections.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political topics in public, and adhere to all instructions issued by their home government and local authorities.
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