Submit this form
Home News Videos Music Photos Facebook Twitter Friends Newsletter Podcasts Mobile RSS
Cautious Calm Returns to Democratic Republic of Congo

VOA News - March 25, 2007

Schwarz report - Download 314k audio clip
Listen to Schwarz report audio clip

Residents of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, are relieved but bitter, as calm has returned after two days of brutal fighting between government forces and the guard of opposition leader and former vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba. Dozens are reported dead, and the death toll is expected to rise as more information becomes available. Naomi Schwarz has more on the story from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

A man looks into a looted shop window, 24 March 2007, in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo
A man looks into a looted shop window, 24 March 2007, in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Jean-Tobie Okala, the deputy spokesman for the U.N.'s military mission in Congo, known by the French abbreviation MONUC, said he went outside for the first time this morning, after more than 48-hours of fighting. "The situation in the Congolese capital is calm. I went to the downtown. I can say that there are a lot of damages but social and economic activity are resuming," he said.

Okala said MONUC forces spent the past few days protecting and evacuating civilians and attempting to mediate between the government and Bemba.

The government issued a warrant for Bemba's arrest Friday, accusing him of treason and calling the clashes a rebellion. He has taken refuge in the South African Embassy in Kinshasa.

Local journalist Eddie Issango says many of Bemba's guard have fled across the river to neighboring Congo-Brazzaville or have turned themselves and their weapons into the U.N.

MONUC spokesman Okala says the government must once again look for ways to find solutions for the many challenges facing the DRC after decades of brutal war. "They have to secure the country. They have to reform security services. They have to promote social justice, promote women. So there is no time to waste," he said.

But Michel Nourredine Kassa, head of Kinshasa-based Leadership Training Initiative, said there remains a lot of anger over the events of the past few days. "There is a sense of relief, I guess, but beyond this sense of relief what I feel is a sense of extreme bitterness. Bitterness at how futile this chapter of this country's political life has been. Futile fighting when there were a thousand other options to settle this dispute than using violence," he said.

But despite the violence of the past days, all too familiar to Congolese who survived a civil war that left more than four million dead, Kassa says a sense of optimism remains. Mr Kassa added, "They are still hopeful because they know that they have voted and they know that their vote counts. It will never be like before."

Last year, the DRC held democratic elections that were widely hailed as an important step toward peace for the beleaguered nation. President Joseph Kabila won the vote, but the election was marred by violent clashes.

Kassa says looks he forward to a time of peace in the DRC, when the National Assembly will become a place for healthy - and peaceful discussion - by members of the government and a robust opposition.

Related articles

  1. Felix Tshisekedi Sworn In as DR Congo President (January 24, 2019)
  2. Constitutional Court Declares Tshisekedi Winner of Presidential Election (January 19, 2019)
  3. Felix Tshisekedi Vows to Be the President of All Congolese (January 10, 2019)
  4. Felix Tshisekedi Elected DR Congo President (January 10, 2019)
  5. DR Congo Delays Results of December Election (January 6, 2019)
  6. Botswana Urges Joseph Kabila to Step Down (February 26, 2018)
  7. No elections in DR Congo in December without electronic voting machines: INEC (February 13, 2018)
  8. US Warns DR Congo Against Electronic Voting for Delayed Election (February 12, 2018)
  9. Felix Tshisekedi accuses INEC of illegally prolonging Kabila's mandate (October 24, 2017)
  10. DRC Seeks Arrest of Presidential Candidate Moise Katumbi (May 19, 2016)
  11. Papa Wemba Is Buried in Kinshasa (May 4, 2016)
  12. Papa Wemba Awarded Highest National Honor as Thousands Pay Tribute (May 2, 2016)
  13. Rights Groups: DR Congo Must Free Pro-democracy Activists (April 13, 2015)
  14. Police Open Fire on Crowd Protesting Election Law Change (January 19, 2015)
  15. Etienne Tshisekedi Evacuated to Belgium for Medical Treatment (August 16, 2014)
  16. Kerry Calls on Kabila to Honor Constitution (May 4, 2014)
  17. Kerry in DR Congo for Security Talks (May 3, 2014)
  18. DR Congo Takes Chairmanship of COMESA at Summit in Kinshasa (February 26, 2014)
  19. DR Congo Honors Nelson Mandela, Hero and Model for Humanity (December 6, 2013)
  20. Kabila Congratulates Congo Army for Defeating M23 Rebels (October 30, 2013)
  21. DR Congo Eases Process for Starting a New Business (June 3, 2013)
  22. Regional Leaders Sign DR Congo Peace Deal (February 24, 2013)
  23. The M23 Rebels Want to Overthrow Kabila? Nonsense (November 28, 2012)
  24. Thousands of Women March Against M23 Rebels in Kinshasa (November 24, 2012)
  25. Protests Against M23 Rebels, Government and UN Spread (November 22, 2012)
  26. Thousands Protest M23 Capture of Goma, Turn on Government and UN (November 21, 2012)
  27. DR Congo Officials Vow to Defend Goma Against M23 Rebels (November 19, 2012)
  28. At high-level meeting, Ban urges political solution to crisis in eastern DR Congo (September 27, 2012)
  29. US Cuts Military Aid to Rwanda Over Support to Rebels in DR Congo (July 21, 2012)
  30. DR Congo, Rwanda Sign Pact to Fight Rebels in Eastern Congo (July 15, 2012)

Live TV Congo Radio en ligne Radio
Available on App Store
Get it on Google Play

Contact Us | About Us | Édition en Français | French Edition

© All rights reserved.