Forces kill six while dispersing protest

KINSHASA – Congolese security forces shot dead at least six people and wounded dozens more as they fired tear gas to disperse a protest against President Joseph Kabila organised by the Catholic Church on Sunday, a UN peacekeeping mission in the country said.

Mr Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016 has triggered a series of street protests in which scores have been killed in Kinshasa. It has also emboldened armed rebel groups in different parts of the country.

A Reuters witness saw police and paramilitary troops fire volleys of tear gas and shoot into the air on Sunday outside the Notre Dame cathedral in the capital Kinshasa.

Florence Marchal, spokeswoman for the UN mission (MONUSCO), also said 57 people were wounded and dozens of arrests had been made across the country. As well as Kinshasa, protests erupted in the central Congolese diamond-mining town of Mbuji-Mayi, in the eastern cities of Goma, Lubumbashi and several other places.

A police spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The instability has stoked fears that the vast, mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo could slide back into the wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.

“I marched today for a simple reason: I want to bring up my children in a country that respects human rights,” protester Pascal Kabeya, a 40-year-old market trader, told Reuters where a few hundred had gathered in a suburb of Kinshasa.

“Kabila has done his two terms. He should leave now and give a chance to someone else”.

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