Wednesday 7 December 2011

Taking it to the streets in Brussels and Kinshasa
 Congolese and Belgians of Congolese origin wreaked havoc in the Brussels Matonge district Monday and Tuesday nights. Shop windows were smashed, dozens of cars were destroyed and trash was set ablaze in this anti-Kabila demonstration. Nearly 200 people were arrested.

Similar demonstrations took place in Johannesburg, Paris, London and Toronto.

The Congolese diaspora is angry. The demonstrators view Belgium as pro-Kabila and involved in supporting him. They are also angry because the Congolese government did not take measures to allow them to vote.

Members of the Congolese community in Belgium bear a deep-rooted grudge. Few of them have good jobs. Congolese with university degrees – sometimes PhDs - work as postal carriers and delivery boys. Their wives often work in lower-level health and social care services. Congolese do the night work that Europeans refuse.

Taking to the streets is one way of venting this frustration - and if controlled, could be a positive way of channelling political mobilisation.

There is a lot of speculation that UDPS supporters will also take to the streets in Kinshasa tomorrow night once the results are made known – most likely announcing a Kabila victory.

Bill Richardson, President Obama’s special envoy currently in Kinshasa, like other Western diplomats, has little leverage overTshisekedi and his ‘combattants’.

Fear of winding up in The Hague is however a consideration. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor at the ICC, said his office was monitoring developments in DRC. "I urge leaders, commanders, and politicians on all sides to calm your supporters," he said in a statement. "Electoral violence is no longer a ticket to power, I assure you. It is a ticket to The Hague."

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