Kinshasa picks up the pieces after two days of clashes

2016-09-21 17:33
Demonstrators gather in front of a burning car during an opposition rally in Kinshasa. (Eduardo Soteras, AFP)

Demonstrators gather in front of a burning car during an opposition rally in Kinshasa. (Eduardo Soteras, AFP)

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Kinshasa - Shops and petrol stations reopened for business in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday but residents kept children from school after two days of deadly clashes between police and protesters.

Life was gradually returning to normal in Kinshasa with stalls and public transport running although traffic was lighter than normal in the megacity of 10 million people.

Several people have been killed over the past two days, including some burned alive, as clashes erupted between police and protesters calling for President Joseph Kabila to step down.

Opposition groups said more than 50 people died on Monday as security forces clamped down on an anti-Kabila demonstration before it had even started.

In the early hours of Tuesday, several more people died and three opposition party HQ buildings were torched.

Accounts of the death toll vary with the government giving a toll of 17 for Monday. Human Rights Watch said at least 37 people had perished over the two days.

Logistical delays 

"What happened yesterday and the day before was awful," said Christian (21) speaking outside a looted mobile phone shop in the southern Ndjili district.

"I'm not against people standing up for their rights but what I don't like is rioting and looting," he said, adding that such crimes tended to target places that offer rare work opportunities to a largely unemployed population.

The looted premises included a nearby depot for agricultural produce set up by the government just two years ago. On Wednesday, there was no produce there, just empty containers.

"Most people cant afford the corn produced in Congo," said Patrick.

"It was anger that made people loot," he added.

"We don't have a particular problem with Kabila but we want him to say publicly that he does not plan to run for another term,".

Elections are supposed to be held before the end of this year but most likely will not because of logistical delays.

"Let the next president give people jobs," he added.

Monday's trouble started on the fringes of an opposition demonstration held to "give notice" to Kabila three months and a day before the end of his term in office.

Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term, but the president has shown no signs of readying to step down.

Read more on:    joseph ­kabila  |  drc  |  central africa  |  drc protests

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