About 100 riot police surrounded the main opposition party HQ in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said, while a party spokesman claimed authorities wanted to stop them building a tomb for their late leader.
A troop transport vehicle was burning outside, while a large tent was also smoking under trees opposite the headquarters of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) in the central district of Limete.
Neither the authorities nor police would comment on the deployment.
But a UPDS spokesperson said security forces wanted to prevent the building of a tomb for party leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in Brussels on February 1 while undergoing medical treatment. He was 84.
“This is a show” staged by the regime of President Joseph Kabila “to stop construction work” on the tomb close to party headquarters, Augustin Kabuya told AFP by telephone.
A political veteran who challenged successive rulers in the former Zaire for about half a century, Tshisekedi became a rallying point for the opposition to contest Kabila’s bid to cling to office after his constitutional mandate expired last December.
On April 22, the UDPS announced that Tshisekedi’s remains would be flown back to the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 12 to be “buried at the headquarters of the party”.
But it has no official permission to hold the burial on privately owned land, which is banned by law.
The return home of Tshisekedi’s body has been announced several times then delayed because of a lack of agreement between his family, the party and authorities concerning his last resting place.
Tshisekedi’s death complicated an already confused political situation, as the fragmented opposition and Kabila’s backers haggled over a power-sharing deal to end the political deadlock and open the way for elections.
Kabila agreed to share power ahead of a vote to take place late in 2017 with a prime minister from the opposition, but his choice of a dissident with marginal minority support, Bruno Tshibala, has angered his foes.