A national day of mourning, declared by Congolese authorities, is observed on Wednesday in the Republic of Congo to honor the memory of 31 youths who lost their lives in a stampede on Monday evening in Brazzaville during an army recruitment operation.

Throughout the capital, flags are lowered to half-mast in front of public offices, and schools, while bars and other entertainment venues also participate in the national mourning. However, road traffic in the city remains unaffected.

On Tuesday evening, the Congolese government spokesperson, Thierry Moungalla, announced that 31 people had perished, and 145 others were injured in the stampede that occurred at the Michel d’Ornano stadium in Brazzaville on Monday night.

Security personnel at the site reported that the number of young recruitment candidates was in the thousands, with some forcibly entering the venue and others scaling over a wall.

Recruitment operations within the Congolese army had commenced on November 14, and Mr. Moungalla emphasized that the youth had responded massively to the call of duty, expressing their willingness to serve under the national flag.

The government had proclaimed a national day of mourning on Wednesday, with the flag lowered to half-mast and the closure of bars, dance clubs, beverage outlets, and festive venues, Mr. Moungalla detailed.

In addition to the judicial investigation initiated by the public prosecutor, a “mixed administrative investigation – police-Congolese armed forces” has been launched. It aims to determine the causes of the tragedy and is expected to present its findings in the coming days, as stated by Mr. Moungalla.

Human rights organizations in Congo and opposition political representatives have pointed fingers at the government’s responsibility in this tragedy. On Tuesday, the organization “Standing for Congo” (DPC) urged the government to implement a “plan to combat mass youth unemployment.”

As a small country in Central Africa, Congo has a population of 5.7 million, with 47% aged under 18, according to the World Bank’s 2022 report. In this oil-rich country led by Denis Sassou Nguesso, aged 79, with 39 years in office, “42% of the youth are unemployed,” as noted by DPC, citing a World Bank report.

Quest: Ezimekume Dominion.

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