DRC clergyman criticises government over suppression of opposition protests
The influential Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kinshasa has sharply criticised the Congolese government over the suppression of opposition protests on New Year's Eve.
At least seven people were killed, as police used live bullets to break up rallies organised by Catholic activists. Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, has described the police action as barbaric,.
“We can only denounce, condemn and stigmatise the actions of the men in uniform which are unfortunately nothing less than barbarism”.
UN peacekeepers say security forces shot at least seven people during demonstration in Kinshasa against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down
A police spokesman said three people had been killed in altercations with security forces in the capital, Kinshasa, and that two of the deaths were being investigated.
Catholic churches and activists had called for peaceful demonstrations after Sunday mass, one year after the Catholic Church oversaw the signing of an accord that set a new election date to ease tensions in the mineral-rich country.
Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, had agreed to set an election date by the end of 2017. Congo’s election commission says the vote cannot be held until December 2018. Critics accuse Kabila of postponing elections to maintain his grip on power, causing tensions to increase and provoking violence and deadly street demonstrations across the country since the end of 2016.
The government refused permits for the demonstrations on Sunday, and shut down internet and SMS services countrywide ahead of the planned anti-government protests, for what it called security reasons.
More than 160 churches participated in the call. Police responded with teargas in some areas of Kinshasa.
Florence Marchal, spokeswoman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, said security forces had shot dead at least seven people in Kinshasa. Another person was killed in a protest in the central city of Kananga, she said, although the cause of death was not yet clear.
UN observers documented at least 123 arrests across the country and a number of serious injuries, Marchal added.