For Fabien Mutomb, provincial vice-president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS - Union pour la Democratie et le Progrès Sociale), the morning started in Lubumbashi’s courthouse, pressing charges with the district prosecutor against the closure of the UDPS provincial headquarters in Lubumbashi. Their offices—like, ostensibly, other party offices in the city centre, although rather more forcibly, and strictly, than others—have been closed for over a week on the orders of Katanga’s governor.
The core members of the party then marched in protest through neighbouring streets, against this closure, and against their allegations of “fraud and cheating” in the November 28th elections, where incumbent president Joseph Kabila had been recently named the winner.
It wasn’t long before the police and army intervened, stopping the group of party heads. When faced with the army, the group sat down in the road. This would be a peaceful protest, and had decided to limit it to just the party heads to prevent things from getting out of hand.
Soldiers surrounded them, with Mr. Mutomb on the wrong end of a soldier’s boot as he refused to get up. For several minutes, the group lay in the road leading to the central square where the statue of Moise Tshombe stands, a reminder of Katanga’s independence.
The group was then raised, lined up, and marched towards the courthouse. By this point, a large group of people had gathered: some bystanders, others UDPS supporters, jeering the soldiers whenever they shoved one of the protestors. As the group was marched off, Mutomb raised his arms to calm the supporters; he seemed intent that this would not degenerate.
The narrow street leading to the courthouse was, by this point, lined with UDPS supporters, who flanked the column of protestors and soldiers. As they reached the end of the road, the protestors were suddenly released, under the orders of a police chief. Jubilation ensued, and Mutomb was raised onto his supporters’ shoulders and carried back up the road.
After a brief discussion with the police, and a speech to his followers, the crowd was dispersed and Mutomb led off to a car.
This would be my last day of covering events in Lubumbashi.