Security forces on Wednesday cracked down on peaceful demonstrators in Kinshasa and other cities across the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Police blocked a series of peaceful meetings organised by the opposition and civil society leaders, to remember the victims of last year’s demonstrations, marking the first anniversary.
Security forces in the country dispersed about 5,000 demonstrators in Bukavu, during the commemoration of those who lost their lives. Other areas in the country like Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Goma were similarly affected.
At least 43 people were shot dead during last year’s protests while a dozen others injured. The bodies of the victims were hastily taken away by security forces, leaving families unable to bury their loved ones.
More demonstrations have been planned in the coming weeks and the Human Rights Watch is urging the government to ensure the citizens are able to express their views peacefully without fear of being arrested or killed by the security forces.
Kabila became president in 2001 following his father’s death and again won disputed elections in 2006 and in 2011. In November 2015, the government said elections would be delayed by up to 4 years, claiming the country was not ready to head to the polls.
The constitutional term limits of President Kabila ends on December 19, 2016 but preparations of the elections have already been stalled. He has however not declared whether he will step down or stand for re-election.