News September 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

Dozens Feared Dead in Congolese Protests

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi September 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

September 21, 2016 at 10:30 am | News

Congolese protesters demanding for presidential elections. WSJ

Dozens are feared to have died in ugly protests that rocked the streets of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, Monday, according to France 24.

Reports say that more than 44 people have died so far in street clashes between opposition protesters and security forces since Monday.

Thousands of opposition supporters have been marching on the streets of Kinshasa to oppose the proposed postponement of the presidential election, which was expected to take place in November.

They accuse outgoing President Joseph Kabila of delaying the election in an effort to extend his reign beyond the end of his second and last term, which ends in December.

“Most were killed when the security forces fired on crowds of protesters. Others were killed when the security forces burned down opposition party headquarters last night, Human Rights Watch researcher Ida Sawyer says.

The angry protesters killed at least six police officers and one civilian thought to be a supporter of the president. They also reportedly burned and looted several businesses and police stations.

Conflicting Reports

Earlier on Tuesday, some members of the opposition and organizers of the protests had placed the death toll at more than 25.

Minister for Interior Evariste Boshab, on the other hand, reported that only 17 people had been killed in the protests.

Other opposition supporters claimed that more than 50 people had died after security forces fired live bullets in to a crowd of protesters.

According to the UN Human Rights office, there has been excessive use of force by both the police and demonstrators — but the two sides have denied responsibility for the deaths.

Clampdown on Opposition, Media

Human rights groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo say dozens of opposition supporters and members of the press have been arrested in several parts of the country, where anti-government protests have been ongoing.

Among those detained is the Congolese opposition leader Martin Fayulu who allegedly sustained a head injury during the protests.

In a symbol of defiance, the Congolese opposition coalition issued a statement on Monday calling for nationwide protests.

“The opposition coalition calls upon the Congolese population from this day forth to intensify and amplify the popular mobilization every day until December 19 [the day President Kabila is expected to step down],” the statement read.

Most schools and businesses in Kinshasa remain closed as people who are not involved in the protests stay indoors to avoid trouble, the BBC reports.

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