His concert was announced under high voltage: the return of the Congolese star Fally Ipupa, Friday, February 28, in Paris aroused the anger of the diaspora opponents, who defied the ban on demonstrations and set fire to the vehicles, causing the evacuation partial view of the Gare de Lyon.
The Congolese rumba singer, accused of being close to the government in power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), had not performed in France for years, for fear of overflows. Before the start of his concert at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, multiple incidents broke out in the early evening around the Gare de Lyon and the Bercy district.
Several scooters and garbage cans were set on fire, producing thick swirls of smoke in the area. Invaded by smoke, the underground part of the station was evacuated as a precaution announced the SNCF, and the traffic of metros and RER was disrupted.
Around 6:30 p.m., the fires were under control by the firefighters and about thirty vehicles, especially two-wheelers, fully charred, found an AFP journalist.
The police headquarters had placed the concert under close surveillance, banning the multiple demonstrations planned by the opponents. But for several days, the battle of opinions was raging on Twitter around the arrival of the singer.
The first arrests of demonstrators defying the ban began at midday. At 9:00 p.m., 46 people had been arrested and at least 54 others verbalized, according to the prefecture, which denounced the "scandalous behavior" of certain demonstrators who hampered the action of the firefighters. The "arsonist" is among those arrested, said a police source.
"This concert is sponsored by Paul Kagame, Africa's worst criminal"
With 1.4 million subscribers on Youtube, Fally Ipupa, 42, is a superstar in the DRC. Part of the diaspora accuses him of being close to ex-president Joseph Kabila and his successor Félix Tshisekedi.
The singer, who has musical collaborations with the American R. Kelly and the French artists Aya Nakamura and Booba, had to give up his last concert planned at the Olympia in 2017, already because of overflows.
Around 8:30 p.m., tensions persisted around the Arena. Fans could come back to attend the concert, which was a priori maintained. Several opponents continued to insult them with cries of "Rwandans, collaborators!".
With AFP, they estimated that Fally Ipupa is a singer who "supports Rwanda", a border country with which the DRC has had complicated relations for years.
"This concert is sponsored by Paul Kagame (the Rwandan president, editor's note), Africa's worst criminal. A man who wants to put his people to sleep with music," said Christian Sossey, a craftsman in the building industry from Montpellier.
The singer's fans were weary. "We don't need the politics over there. We just came to let off steam. There's enough of these vandals," sighed Junior, ticket in hand and on his 31 for the occasion.
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