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Police dismantle a roadblock used to impede anti-government protests in Kinshasa
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Bompengo

Congo: At least 34 dead in political violence

December 22, 2016

Mediators have warned that the mineral-rich country may slide back into civil conflict if a political solution is not reached. More than 3 million were killed in back-to-back civil wars at the turn of the century.


Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday said at least 34 people have been killed during protests since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate on Monday, prompting protests across the central African country.

"We continue to receive other reports that we're working to verify and this figure might go up," HRW senior researcher Ida Sawyer told Radio France Internationale.

"We have also documented a number of cases of people who have been wounded by bullets, so when security forces fired at protesters or fired in the air. When people were hit by stray bullets, those cases were also documented," she added.

Anger across the mineral-rich country has grown since Kabila announced that he would remain office, in accordance with a court decision that allows him to stay until the next presidential election.

However, elections originally scheduled for November have been postponed indefinitely, with the government saying it could take until 2018 to organize.

'We don't trust the majority'

Opposition forces have criticized Kabila, saying his plans to delay elections are a ploy to stay in power long enough to change the constitution to allow him to run for another term. Kabila is banned from standing for a third term under the Congolese constitution.

Catholic Church-led talks between Kabila's government and the opposition continued on Thursday with mediators warning that a political solution must be found before Christmas or the central African country could slide back into civil conflict.

"We want to reach an agreement, but we don't trust the majority to be here in good faith," said Peter Kazidi, advisor to Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

More than 3 million people were killed in two wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s, marking the deadliest conflict in modern African history.

In September, clashes between protesters and police left more than 50 people dead in the capital when the electoral commission failed to schedule new elections.


ls/kms (Reuters, AP)

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