fight fire with fire

DRC: With Peter Kazadi, the best defence is attack

By Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala

Posted on May 29, 2023 12:00

 © Peter Kazadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the DRC, during a press briefing on 24 May 2023.
Peter Kazadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the DRC, during a press briefing on 24 May 2023.

Accused of having used disproportionate force on Saturday 20 May when opponents of Félix Tshisekedi had called for demonstrations in Kinshasa, the government went on the offensive again on Wednesday 24 May, pointing the finger at those it considers to be primarily responsible for the situation. “The government does not intend to allow itself to be pushed around,” warned Peter Kazadi, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, at a press briefing.

“We do not intend to be intimidated or blackmailed,” he said, with the blackmail in question consisting of claims that “the Tshisekedi government is a population-oppressing dictatorship which stifles freedoms and dispatches its police to commit violent acts.”

‘Biased’ media

Kazadi went on to denounce the media’s handling of the events of the last few days: “What is to be deplored about this media campaign is that some media professionals have lost their sense of balance in disseminating this information. They have become biased. They have only shown the blunders, which are reprehensible…but they have never broadcast the images of demonstrators attacking police officers.”

(translation of tweet below: “If we were a serious country, made up of serious citizens, no one could accept that these kinds of demonstrations be organised…but because of the international community and the international press, we are sometimes forced to tolerate certain things.”)

According to the opposition, many people were injured in Saturday’s crackdown, with several of its members arrested. “The DRC is not the only country in the world where the security forces have misbehaved during demonstrations,” said Kazadi. “We’ve seen that in France too. In the US, American citizens are killed by police officers, but we have never tried to blame the authorities. However, in DRC, when a few members of the police force become disgruntled, they blame the Congolese state. They blame the chief executive and his ministers as if they were the ones who had gone into the field.”

When opposition politician Moïse Katumbi was prevented from travelling to the province of Kongo-Central on Tuesday 23 May as part of a political tour, the Interior Minister criticised him for not heeding a warning from the provincial authorities, who had asked him to postpone his arrival.

“I have just listened to the Governor of Kongo-Central with all the security services. He told me he had never refused to organise demonstrations in his province, but that he had set a few conditions, in particular postponing demonstrations for two days and indicating the venue due to security reasons,” said Kazadi.

The black hand theory

The Interior Minister then went on to comment on the situation in DRC’s eastern regions, once again attacking Rwanda, which he said was occupying parts of Congolese territory “under the cover of the M23 terrorist movement.”

The DRC is not the only country in the world where the security forces have misbehaved during demonstrations.

“The insecurity in the east is spreading westwards with the support of certain political players who are even in parliament,” Kazadi declared, before citing the violence in the territory of Kwamouth, in the Maï-Ndombe area. It is in this province that a militia known as Mobondo has appeared, spreading terror and extending its reach to Kwango and Kwilu, and even to part of the city of Kinshasa.

“The information at our disposal points to the involvement of certain political figures and notables who are fuelling this conflict, poisoning the population, and inciting them to massacre others, with the belief that this will weaken, sabotage, and reduce the authority of the State’s institutions,” Kazadi said.

Compelled by the ICC

He deduced that in this context, a country other than the DRC would not have authorised the opposition to demonstrate.

“…we have an international community breathing down our necks, dictating to us every time what line to take in the management of our internal affairs. With its international press, handing out points, we are sometimes obliged to tolerate certain things that hurt us, so as not to be transferred to the International Criminal Court, so as not to be punished.”

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