Police ‘kidnap’ Catholic priest in DR Congo — witnesses

In this file photo, riot policemen fire tear gas to disperse Catholic priest and demonstrators during a protest against President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.(Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2018

Police ‘kidnap’ Catholic priest in DR Congo — witnesses

KINSHASA: Police “kidnapped” a Catholic priest Saturday after mass in Kinshasa, witnesses said, amid spiralling tensions between the church and the DR Congo’s government over the president’s refusal to step down.
“Father Sebastien was taken away by police just after morning mass,” a nun of the Saint-Robert parish told AFP in N’sele on the eastern outskirts of the capital.
A police vehicle drew up outside the church, officers jumped out and “started to beat the priest,” said another nun who had also witnessed the incident.
“They threw him in the jeep and drove off with him,” she said, adding that an unidentified man “filmed the priest” on his mobile phone during mass.
Police refused to comment on the incident when contacted by AFP.
Priest Sebastien Yebo has worked for the parish since August 2017.
The incident comes after a deadly crackdown by the government on Catholic-organized protests against President Joseph Kabila.
At least 15 people have been killed in clashes with security forces at rallies on December 31 and January 21, according to the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO.
Kabila, 46, has been in power since 2001, at the helm of a regime widely criticized for corruption, repression and incompetence.
His constitutional term in office expired in December 2016 but he has stayed on, stoking a bloody spiral of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Under a deal brokered by the powerful Catholic Church, he was allowed to stay in office provided new elections were held in 2017.
The authorities then postponed the election until December 23 this year, citing what they said were logistical problems in preparing for the vote.
The delay, coupled with the mounting violence, has placed Kabila on collision course with the church, which has a prominent role in the DR Congo due to its educational and social care work.


Italy considers extending COVID-19 emergency until Jan. 31

Updated 4 min 56 sec ago

Italy considers extending COVID-19 emergency until Jan. 31

  • The emergency, set to expire in mid-October, gives the government greater powers

ROME: Italy is considering extending until Jan. 31 next year its state of emergency over the COVID-19 crisis, two national newspapers said on Thursday.
The emergency, set to expire in mid-October, gives the government greater powers, allowing officials to more easily bypass the bureaucracy that smothers much decision-making in Italy.
Dailies Il Messagero and Corriere della Sera said a cabinet meeting discussed the issue late on Wednesday.
“It is not official yet.. while at first (the government) talked about pushing it back to Dec. 31, during the meeting (the government) considered going beyond the end of the year, given that the cohabitation with the virus is destined to go on for a long time still,” Il Messaggero said.