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UDPS Protest - Lubumbashi

© Phil Moore/AFP

© Phil Moore/AFP

© Phil Moore/AFP

© Phil Moore/AFP

© Phil Moore/AFP

© Phil Moore/AFP

UDPS Protest

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.

Kabila Wins

Driving through the streets of Lubumbashi’s Kenya district, the radio announced Joseph Kabila the provisional winner of the Congo’s presidential elections. Immediately, people ran out into the street, celebrating.

Just minutes before, with people huddled around a television in a cramped hairdressing salon in the Katubua district, air was sucked through teeth as Tshesekedi was declared to have won just 7.07% of Katanga’s vote.

Katuba is home to many Kassaïns, strong supporters of Tshesekedi. But in the neighbouring Kenya district, it is the Katangais who live, and despite some disgruntlement by undelivered promises, were happy to see him win today.

In the city centre, people celebrated around the central square, clutching flags and umbrellas and posters of Kabila. A strong force of police and army watched.

Driving out to other districts of Lubumbashi, where Kabila reigned people were in the streets celebrating. In the pro-Tshesekedi neighbourhoods, things were quiet, people stood around on the roadside, their arms folded. Some feared that it could descend into violence, as had happened several weeks previously when Tshesekedi supporters clashed with Kabila supporters. But not today.

DRC Election Results

Watching the results come in… There was little prior announcement, but word got around and people tuned in their television sets and radios.

As the results came out, a group of men crowded into a hairdressers in pro-Tshesekedi district of Katuba in Lubumbashi. Breath was drawn in over gritted teeth when Kabila won a province. Smiles broke out when Tshesekedi came through.

When Tshesekedi was announced to have won only 7.07% of Katanga’s vote, I was told “impossible”.

The Waiting Game

The provisional results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections were due today. In the centre of Lubumbashi, the main square was quiet. Usually abuzz with people after work, fear of unrest caused people to stay away. The rain didn’t help.

The giant screen outside the main post-office was showing advertisements. The guys in charge said they would not be showing the results here. The cinema opposite was closing early.

Driving to a bar usually bustling with the after-work crowd, a few danced indoors, but tonight the bar-tenders would not be busy. The streets outside were quiet.

And then came the announcement that the results would be postponed.