Political tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo escalated yesterday with an all-out fight between lawmakers in parliament.
At least three people were injured when MPs supporting current President Felix Tshisekedi clashed with the majority party that was still loyal to his predecessor Joseph Kabila.
Rival groups fought and threw objects at each other before the police were called in to end the chaos.
Following the violence, the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo tweeted that it “strongly condemns the violence in and around the People’s Palace, which is incompatible with the requirements of a democratic society.”
Tensions have been building for months over a fragile coalition government between Tshisekedi, who took office last year after nearly 20 years in Kabila’s rule, and his predecessor’s party, which has a parliamentary majority.
The UN envoy for the Congo warned that the current political crisis in the Congo caused by the end of a coalition between the parties could affect the economic and security situation of the African nation if not resolved.
Leila Zerrougui told the UN Security Council that it can play an important role and promote a negotiated agreement that places “the interests of the Congolese people above short-term political goals that can further fuel tensions.”
Fifteen council members held closed-door consultations after their briefing, but have so far taken no immediate action or made any statements.
Emphasizing that the Congo “cannot afford a serious institutional crisis”, Ms Zerrougui said it needs “stable and functional institutions” that can get to work as soon as possible and focus on the national economic recovery and stabilize the volatile east rich in minerals of the country before the general. elections scheduled for 2023.
Tshisekedi announced the decision to scrap the alliance between his Cap for Change party and the pro-Kabila Common Front for the Congolese party on Sunday after months of political stalemate in the Congolese legislature, where Kabila supporters hold the majority.
The president cited disputes over issues affecting security, the organization of elections, the independence of the judiciary and the management of the vast country, which is the size of Western Europe.
Tshisekedi said he was appointing an official to identify a new parliamentary majority that will support his reform agenda, and if that is not possible, he threatened to dissolve parliament and call new elections.
Tshisekedi replaced Kabila in January 2019 after a disputed vote in the Congo’s first peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.
Zerrougui, who heads the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo with nearly 17,500 troops, said that following Tshisekedi’s announcement, Kabila’s party “rejected the crisis diagnosis” and called the president’s decision to sink the coalition as “unconstitutional”.
At the same time, he said, several representatives of civil society and the opposition welcomed and supported the evaluation and the president’s decisions.
The UN envoy noted, with regret, “that there have been strong tensions between the combatants and militants of the two political forces around parliament.”
In light of escalating tensions, Ms. Zerrougui said, she and other members of the peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO have met over the past month with representatives of both parties, as well as representatives of society. civil, “seeking to urge them to resolve their differences through dialogue and seeking to avoid further provocations that could inflame violence.”
We will continue to take advantage of our good offices to facilitate an expeditious and peaceful solution to this delicate political situation, a situation that, if it persists, may have serious and adverse consequences on the economic and security situation of the country, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, “he warned .