General strike affects DR Congo’s two main cities
A general strike called by the opposition to force Congolese President Joseph Kabila to share power on Monday slowed business activities in the capital Kinshasa and the second city, Lubumbashi.
“We’ve followed the watchword … because we are suffering greatly. Let him (Kabila) quit power, he has finished his mandate, we want no more of him,” Mamie Biamba, a resident of the lively Kingasani district of Kinshasa, told AFP.
An umbrella alliance of parties known as the Rassemblement (“Rally”) urged people to stop work in protest at Kabila’s failure to implement a power-sharing deal signed on December 31 and to appoint a prime minister from the opposition.
The president’s constitutional mandate ran out last year at the end of his second five-year elected term. His unwillingness to enable elections and step down led to protests in September that left some 50 people dead.
At 8:00 am (0700 GMT), shops and service stations remained closed in Kinshasa and public transport was scarce, with people walking from their homes in eastern working-class districts to their workplaces in the city centre.
The situation was similar in distant Lubumbashi, according to witnesses in the vast country’s mining capital, about 1,570 kilometres (975 miles) southeast of Kinshasa.
“One shop in five is open,” a resident told AFP, while a bank manager stated that work was slowed down and several of his staff had failed to show up.
“I was almost alone on the roads and I charged high fares,” taxi driver Nyembo Muyumba said in Lubumbashi.
But some people voiced indifference to the strike call, which followed pressure on Kabila by the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union to abide by he December deal.
“We’re not concerned by appeals from politicians. Our problem is to find something to feed our children, send them to school,” said Albertine Bulanga, who sells maize in a Kingasani market.
“Life has become unbearable for the little people like us while they (the politicians) have cushy lives.
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