Protesters in Kinshasa reject last month’s appointment of a new head of the electoral body by President Felix Tshisekedi.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to protest against President Felix Tshisekedi’s decision to install a close friend as the head of the country’s electoral commission.
Tshisekedi’s move last month came despite objection from political opposition and influential Catholic and Protestant religious leaders.
Critics say Denis Kadima, the new head of the CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission), is corrupt and too close to the president.
“This is our country and no one will stop us from claiming our rights,” a protester in Kinshasa told Al Jazeera.
“We reject a politicized electoral commission. We want things to change in this country, “he added.
Protesters also displayed banners with slogans such as “Enough” and “No to a politicized CENI”. “We want teachers to be paid,” said another after the strikes in the education sector.
Malcolm Webb of Al Jazeera, referring to the protests, said the protesters “are angry”.
“The appointment of the new electoral commissioner is seen by [protesters] not to be neutral … and biased in favor of President Felix Tshisekedi, “Webb said.
“They said this is all part of a process by which Tshisekedi is taking control of all key institutions ahead of the elections,” he added.
The next presidential elections are set for December 2023.
Tshisekedi was elected in very late elections in December 2018, which were peaceful but marked by allegations of fraud. He said he’s going to run again.
Some protesters have called for the return of former president Joseph Kabila, who ruled the DRC for 18 years before Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019.
“We have to be clear if the president thinks he will lead this country … a [a] fake election commission in 2023, then we’ll see what happens. We don’t need him anymore, he couldn’t drive, “said one protester.
Former parliament speaker Aubin Minaku, former prime minister Bruno Tshibala and former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary attended the demonstrations.