kabila-luchaPresident Kabila met on 18 August 2016 in Goma, North Kivu, with 47 members of the Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) pro-democracy movement. The two-hour meeting was the first ever exchange the activists held with Kabila, having until now been considered as a terrorist movement.

According to Ghislain Kasereka, recently released from prison through a presidential pardon, the meeting was “an opportunity for us to submit to the President our demands in clear terms, namely: our country needs security, elections must be held this year, freedom of expression must be guaranteed, our comrades still in prison must be released and the political space must be opened”.

In response, Kasereka said Kabila “promised elections will be held in this country, but due to certain constraints polls will not be feasible this year”.

LUCHA members also demanded the release of other pro-democracy activists that have been detained in Kinshasa for more than a year now, including Yves Bakwambala and Fred Bahuma. President Kabila reportedly promised to direct the state prosecutor to take the appropriate action to free them.

On whether their audience with Kabila will wane their activism, Kasereka stressed “we told Kabila we will carry on with the fight for change and not stop because we just met with him”.

The meeting was requested by Kabila who told the activists “to me you are a citizens’ movement and not a terrorist organisation”.

Comprised of Goma youth in North Kivu, LUCHA is an apolitical and non-violent organisation that is fighting for peaceful change of rule in the DRC and respect for presidential term limit.

The DRC constitution bans Kabila from seeking a third term and extend his stay in power. However, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that Kabila can remain in office until his replacement is elected.