Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kabila Bars Activity by Political Parties in Capital; Action Likely to Anger West

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kabila Bars Activity by Political Parties in Capital; Action Likely to Anger West

Article excerpt

The government of President Laurent Kabila on Monday barred political party activity in the capital, further undermining confidence in his promises to liberate the country from years of dictatorship.

Because most opposition groups are based in Kinshasa, the restrictions effectively bar political parties from organizing or meeting anywhere in the country.

The move is reminiscent of those imposed by Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator Kabila ousted eight days ago, and is likely to anger Western nations that had pressed him to introduce democracy. The announcement, made on national radio, did not say how long the ban on political activity would last or exactly what it entailed. Kabila introduced similar bans in other parts of Congo during his seven-month sweep across the country, which culminated in his declaring himself president on May 17. But this is the first peacetime, countrywide ban on opposition party activity. In the same broadcast, the government announced that soldiers of the ruling Alliance were prohibited from appearing in the streets of Kinshasa without written orders - a response to complaints by some Kinshasans of petty harassment by Alliance soldiers. The broadcast also repeated earlier bans on public meetings and protest and called on people holding unregistered weapons to surrender them immediately. "Any violators will be considered enemies of the liberation of the Congolese people and will be punished to the fullest extent of the law," the radio announcement said. Earlier, opposition leaders promised to press ahead with a planned protest. Dominique Kankonde, a spokesman for the opposition Democratic Union for Social Progress, said a march against Kabila would go ahead Wednesday. …

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