DRC protest: Death toll hits 17

2016-09-19 19:29
Demonstrators point a broken billboard (not see) showing the face of Congolese President Joseph Kabila during an opposition rally in Kinshasa. (AFP)

Demonstrators point a broken billboard (not see) showing the face of Congolese President Joseph Kabila during an opposition rally in Kinshasa. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kinshasa -  Street clashes between security forces and demonstrators opposed to President Joseph Kabila left at least 17 dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital on Monday in a dramatic sign of mounting tensions after officials sought to delay the upcoming election until next year.

Protesters threw stones and set tires ablaze, according to witnesses. Interior Minister Evariste Boshab confirmed that three police officers were among the dead but declined to specify how the civilians were killed.

An Associated Press photographer saw at least four bodies with gunshot wounds in the streets.

Government spokesperson Lambert Mende called the demonstrations a pre-meditated criminal act.

"This wasn't a demonstration at all but an attempt to unleash civil war in the city of Kinshasa," he said. "The authorities decided to put an end to the protest and disperse it."

Eva Mwakasa, a member of the opposition coalition La Dynamique, said it was difficult to give a death toll as protesters had been dispersed by tear gas.

Growing fears 

For months, observers have questioned whether DRC could hold the presidential vote as scheduled on November 27. The country's electoral commission had indicated that the voter list would not be formalized before July 2017.

Over the weekend, the commission made an official request to the country's constitutional court for a delay of the vote.

The violence comes amid growing fears that the delay could lead to prolonged unrest in Congo, a nation as vast in size as Western Europe. The mineral-rich but largely impoverished country suffered back-to-back civil wars until 2003, and previous instability has drawn in armies from neighbouring countries.

Kabila, who came to power after his father's assassination in 2001, has yet to announce whether he will pursue another term in office, though the constitution prohibits it.

Some view the election delay as a way for him to prolong his rule beyond the end of his mandate in late December, as he is able to stay in power in the event there is no election to choose a successor.

In recent days, the ruling party has floated the idea of a unity government with opposition members until the next elections, though the proposal would keep Kabila in charge during that period.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa  |  drc protests

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.