Post: rally ends in violence

We returned here to Bukavu at 10.00 this morning and passed through Independence Square. Riot police in visor helmets and heavy body armour lined the steps and platforms, a hangover from yesterday’s trouble and a black ominous presence to deter a repeat of any gathering in support of Vital Kamerhe.

Bukavu is a stronghold for the opposition leader and from what we can gather he had planned to hold a rally yesterday in the square only for his supporters to be re-directed to the football ground. The talk around Bukavu is that two football teams were paid $1000 by the government to play a match at the ground at the same time and thereby curtail any chance of a rally. Kamerhe’s supporters were frustrated and returned to the square where they were shot at by the police.

We’ve heard reports that a woman died but I can’t find confirmation on the web. There’s coverage by Reuter’s here and coverage by Relief Web here. I’ve just seen a report on the TV that says that 47 people were injured.

Today we saw a noisy procession of motos and cars apparently following Kamerhe’s car when he drove through town. The cavalcade was no more than a melee of enthusiastic supporters flying red and white flags.

It’s another two years until the next presidential election. The events yesterday don’t bode well for a peaceful contest.