Published: Wed, January 03, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Congo forces kill at least 7 in anti-government protests

Congo forces kill at least 7 in anti-government protests

It's a New Year, but when it comes to politics in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), there is nothing new.

Protesters want Kabila to promise he will not further extend his time in power in DRC, a mostly Catholic former Belgian colony.

At the Paroisse Saint Michel Catholic church in Kinshasa's Bandalungwa district, security forces fired tear gas into the building, creating panic, opposition leader Vital Kamerhe, who was present at the mass, told Reuters.

An AFP reporter at a demonstration in the central city of Kananga saw a man shot in the chest by soldiers who opened fire on worshippers.

Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, had agreed to set an election date by the end of 2017. Western powers have accepted the delay with reluctance, hoping it will avoid bloodshed and encourage stability in this vast and volatile central African country.

In contrast to the toll given by the protestors, the United Nations said in a statement on Tuesday that "at least five people" were killed, adding that several others had been wounded and more than 120 arrested.

Catholic grassroots activists and civil rights groups have called for peaceful protests in response to the political situation, however, the latest round of protests has led to heavy police response.

A government statement said one policeman had also been killed.

Three people were killed in altercations with security forces in the capital, Kinshasa, police spokesman Pierrot Mwanamputu said. "What's more, you have a white man with you - that's a race that causes us problems".

In Kinshasa, AFP counted about 10 people hurt, including a priest with an injury to the face and a woman in her sixties with a gash on her forehead, after police broke up church gatherings.

Authorities on Saturday ordered all internet and text messaging services cut until further notice.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has urged Kabila who has been in power since 2001, to abide by an agreement to step down ahead of elections slated for later this year.

The last demonstrations on any great scale were in July 2016, when veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in Brussels the following year, returned home.

"We tell ourselves we are in a democratic state, but we are not in a democracy".

"With each step we have to amend our mistakes".

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