The Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition demonstration on Monday saw a violent start in the capital Kinshasa where a number of recorded deaths triggered its cancellation by the authorities.
The Ministry of Interior announced late afternoon that 17 people have been killed including 3 policemen and 14 civilians.
The spokesman of the government, Lambert Mende told AFP earlier that two policemen were killed at the residence of the ruling party in Limete in the city center. He added that the violence forced them to cancel the event.
On the part of the opposition, the spokesman of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Bruno Tshibala said at least four civilians were killed during the violence.
[UPDATE] Kinshasa clashes: At least 4 civilians killed (opposition)— africanews (@africanews) September 19, 2016
The numbers are expected to rise as the violence continues.
The government spokesman however blamed the opposition UDPS for the violence including allegations of looting and arson targeting politicians.
Lambert Mende also explained the reason for the cancellation adding that “they deceived the governor in Kinshasa on the peaceful nature of their protest”.
Gunshots and tear gas were reportedly fired by the police as clashes erupted in the morning ahead of the planned opposition demonstration against President Joseph Kabila.
According to journalists on the ground, dozens of protesters had a standoff with riot police in Ngaba and Yolo after they threw stones at them. This prompted a reaction from the armed men.
Property was reportedly damaged including a minibus and a car which were burned in Limete. Posters of the president were also burned and burning tires were used as barricades on the Lumumba Boulevard, main road to the city centre, allowing only journalists to pass.
The demonstrations were also held in other parts of the country including Goma in the eastern part of the country.
Congolese citizens in South Africa also extended the demonstration to the DRC embassy in Pretoria.
Led by Etienne Tshisekedi of the UDPS, the main opposition parties are calling for an election in November and also for Kabila to step down at the end of his term on December 20.