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DR Congo: deaths reported as protesters call on Kabila to step down

DR Congo: deaths reported as protesters call on Kabila to step down

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The UN says at least 20 civilians were killed in the Democratic Republic Congo when soldiers opened fire during confrontations with security forces in the capital Kinshasa.

Two witnesses said at least two civilians were killed overnight when soldiers opened fire during clashes in the neighbourhood of Kingabwa.

Violence erupted on Tuesday in the two largest cities of the DRC as historical opponent Etienne Tshisekedi called on the people not to “recognize” President Joseph Kabila.*

That is why I'm launching a solemn appeal, firstly to the Congolese people to...not recognise the illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila.

Security forces fired teargas and arrested youths gathered in the streets of Kinshasa to demand that Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila step down after his mandate expired overnight.

The government spokesman could not be reached for comment and a police spokesman could not confirm the information.

SUGGESTED READING Follow our LIVE blog of happenings in the DRC

Protest had commenced after opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi called on the Congolese people to peacefully resist Kabila, who has remained in power beyond his constitutional mandate and with no election to pick a success.

“That is why I’m launching a solemn appeal, firstly to the Congolese people to…not recognise the illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila and to peacefully resist [his] coup d’etat ,” he said.

Sporadic gunfire crackled in several districts of the capital Kinshasa, a city of 12 million, as measures to thwart dissent fanned fears of more violence.

Western powers are nervous of a repeat of the conflicts between 1996 to 2003 that killed millions.

“I am only asking for the politicians to get along so that there is peace in our country. We all just want peace, that they come to an agreement through CENCO [Congo Catholic Bishops’ Conference]. That is all we want,” said a resident, Gilles.

Kabila has rarely spoken about the issue in public, but his allies say the election was delayed because of logistical and financial problems. The constitutional court has ruled that Kabila can stay on until the election takes place, and some opposition leaders have agreed to this.

Scores of protesters have been arrested in the past 24 hours, mostly in the eastern city of Goma, according to human rights groups.

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