Two dead in DRC protest clashes

A fire is seen in a building during a protest where demonstrators and police officers clashed in Kinshasa.
A fire is seen in a building during a protest where demonstrators and police officers clashed in Kinshasa.
Arsene Mpiana
  • A demonstrator has been shot dead during clashes in the DRC
  • Police in Kinshasa had used tear gas to break up thousands of members of President Felix Tshisekedi' UDPS who had marched near the country's parliament
  • Despite leaving office, former president Joseph Kabila wields political influence behind the scenes

A protester was shot dead and a policeman was lynched on Thursday in clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo over plans to name a new head to the country's election panel, sources said.

The body of a protester was taken to a hospital morgue in the city of Lubumbashi, in southeastern DRC, a member of the local United Nations human rights office told AFP.

An employee of the hospital confirmed that the body was that of a 32-year-old man and said he had received a gunshot wound.

A UN source added that in the capital Kinshasa, "a policeman was lynched after firing on the demonstrators" and several other police were injured.

Earlier, AFP reporters said police in Kinshasa had used tear gas to break up thousands of members of President Felix Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Progress (UDPS) who had marched to near the seat of parliament.

In Kananga, a UDPS stronghold in the central region of Kasai, three protesters suffered gunshot wounds when security forces clamped down on a demonstration outside party headquarters, the reporters said.

Other protests were reported in south-central Mbuji-Mayi, the eastern city of Beni and in Kisangani, in the northeast.

The marches have been triggered by a decision by the National Assembly to appoint Ronsard Malonda as chairperson of the independent national electoral commission, CENI.

Pro-democracy campaigners say Malonda, currently CENI's secretary-general, has played a historic role in rigging elections in favour of Tshisekedi's iron-fisted predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

Kabila stepped down in January 2019 after 18 years, following elections that ushered in the DRC's first-ever peaceful transition of power.

But, say critics, the vote was marred by fraud that denied victory to Martin Fayulu, a fierce Kabila opponent.

Despite leaving office, Kabila wields political influence behind the scenes, and his supporters have a huge majority in parliament, forcing Tshisekedi into an uneasy coalition.

Tshisekedi, who campaigned on a platform of transparency and fighting corruption, has yet to approve Malonda to head CENI.

Further protests have been set for July 13 and 19. The interior minister, Gilbert Kankonde, on Wednesday banned all rallies across the country, citing the risk of coronavirus infection.

The DRC has imposed emergency restrictions, which were renewed on Monday for another 15 days.

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