Over the new year weekend, Catholic officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo staged protests against President Joseph Kabila. At least 5 protesters were killed by security services, and more than 120 people were arrested in the capital Kinshasa.
Kabila was supposed to step down in 2016 after he reached the presidential term limit of 15 years. Now, it’s 2018, and Congolese civil society sees Kabila’s overstay in power yet another erosion of civil rights in the country.
The region is notorious for leaders who refuse to relinquish power, and many have pointed to the Democratic Republic of Congo as a bastion of democracy. In the last 15 years, though, the country’s economy has exploded with the export of rare earth minerals used in high-end electronics like cell phones and electric car batteries. Yet, looting and corruption prevents that economic boon from trickling down.
Many activists, including the church, believe this resource curse lays at Kabila’s feet and with the corporations and consumers of the U.S., Europe, and, more recently, China. Kambale Musavuli, the national spokesperson of Friends of the Congo, joins us to discuss the recent protests there.