Congo Police Arrest More Than 100 in Election Protests
Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo have arrested more than 100 protesters in cities across the country calling for presidential elections to be held by the end of the year.
Demonstrations took place in the capital, Kinshasa, the eastern city of Goma, and at least a half dozen other cities.
In Goma, witnesses said police used tear gas to disperse protesters, while in Kinshasa, media groups said several journalists covering the protests were briefly detained.
The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in Congo condemned Monday's arrests, saying that "arbitrary arrests are incompatible with the right to information and right of freedom of assembly" guaranteed in Congo's constitution.
The youth movement Struggle for Change (LUCHA) organized the protests, timed to mark the July 31 deadline by the country's election commission to conclude a voter registration program, which was not met.
The group's spokesman in Goma, Justin Muhiwa, told VOA that Congo's election commission needs to set a date for the vote because it is the right of the Congolese people to hold an election.
President Joseph Kabila's second and final constitutional mandate expired last December, leading to growing political tensions in the country.
An agreement reached last year by the president and the opposition said Kabila could remain in office until elections are organized, and it set a deadline of the end of 2017. However, the election commission announced this month that it would not be possible to organize elections by the end of December.
Kabila's government has faced a wave of protests in recent months over the election issue. Growing unrest in the country has raised fears of a return to civil war, which ravaged the DRC for nearly a decade beginning in the late 1990s, leading to the deaths of millions of people.
White House Shuffle: General Kelly In, Scaramucci Out
Tweeting that there is "no chaos" in the White House, President Donald Trump brought in a no-nonsense retired Marine Corps general, John Kelly, as his chief of staff Monday to restore order to an administration shaken by six months of policy setbacks, personnel changes and media leaks.
Within hours, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci had been given his walking papers, in a sign that Kelly would assert authority in a way his predecessor Reince Priebus never was able to do as Oval Office gatekeeper.
Scaramucci’s abrupt dismissal came little more than a week after he was brought in with great fanfare to head the battered White House communications shop. His hiring sent shivers through the staff as he threatened to fire anyone suspected of leaking information to the press. He quickly fell out of favor, however, after telephoning a reporter for the weekly magazine The New Yorker and unleashing an embarrassing, profanity-laced rant.
Scaramucci’s departure was announced in a terse statement issued by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: "Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House communications director. Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best."
A short time later, Sanders, who had been named press secretary by Scaramucci on his first day in the job, told reporters, "The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments (to The New Yorker) were inappropriate for a person in that position."
Sanders said Scaramucci had been relieved of all duties in the White House, including a position with the Export-Import Bank that he held before being named communications director.
She also made clear that "the president has given full authority to General Kelly" to determine who has access to the Oval Office.
David Cohen, a political scientist at the University of Akron who has studied the office of the chief of staff, said Kelly’s first day bodes well for his mission of righting the White House ship.
"If Kelly has been granted the power to hire and fire and to control access to the president, that is a good thing for the country," Cohen said. "Because he can restore some discipline and restore some sanity to the chaos that is gripping the White House."
On Capitol Hill, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine applauded the changes. "I was pleased to learn of [Scaramucci's] departure, and this shows me that General Kelly is taking firm control, and that he is not going to tolerate the kind of unacceptable behavior that Mr. Scaramucci has exhibited in just 10 days on the job."
"I salute General Kelly for making this one of his earliest moves," Collins said. "I believe General Kelly will impose discipline and order on a rather chaotic and conflict-ridden White House staff. This is a good move."
Among Kelly’s biggest challenges will be stopping the leaks to reporters that have bedeviled Trump during his first six months in office, and controlling access to the Oval Office.
During his six months in the job, Reince Priebus was known to have been unable to keep a number of White House officials, including the president's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, from walking in on Trump unannounced, often with the intention of influencing administration policy. News reports this week said both Kushner and Ivanka Trump had given their blessing to Kelly’s selection.
Akron University Professor Cohen says Trump "must have a different version of reality" if he thinks there is no chaos in the White House, but he also knows he needs a strong voice to control his impulsiveness.
"I think what we’re going to see is over time the chief of staff and the president butting heads quite a bit," Cohen said. "I don’t know if it’ll be a relationship that will be successful in the long run."
Kelly’s ability to succeed ultimately depends on whether Trump gives him full authority, the political scholar added, saying: "I have grave doubts whether President Trump will be able to change his management style."