World Bulletin / News Desk
The Democratic Republic of Congo government's decision to invalidate all semi-biometric passports to replace them with biometric ones has provoked such an outcry across the country that the government has decided to postpone the deadline.
The initial deadline of Oct. 16 for all Congolese nationals to replace their passports was considered too early by many, spreading doubts to the intentions of the Congolese government, regarding citizens' mobility and the cost of the operation.
DRC authorities have not given any details on the number of passports to be renewed or on the human and logistical means made available to the competent authorities to replace the semi-biometric passports with biometric ones.
This lack of information has engendered all kinds of interpretations and reactions and forced the authorities to review their decision.
On Monday, the government announced that it had extended the deadline for the implementation of the measure to Jan. 14, 2018.
It all began on Sept. 15 when the deputy foreign minister issued an official statement announcing the invalidation of semi-biometric passports starting Oct. 16 2017.
Congolese citizens with semi-biometric passports would no longer be able to travel outside the country and those returning from abroad would be obliged to hand over theirs -- even if still valid -- against a voucher for renewal, priced at $100 instead of $185.
These measures angered many across the country.
Numerous Congolese citizens said they feared a situation where mobility becomes difficult and denounced the new financial obligations, considered "unbearable". The measure was also considered to be in contradiction with the initial declaration from the government two years ago.
At the time, the head of the Congolese diplomacy had announced that both types of passports could be used for two years, and until the expiration of the date of validity indicated on the travel document.
As a result, critics across the country made their voices heard. "Why withdraw valid passports and let an invalid president rule?" said a citizen who asked to remain anonymous.