Protesters killed in Congo crackdown

At least 10 people have been killed in a police crackdown on opposition rallies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country's main opposition party said.

    Congolese authorities had banned the demonstrations

    Six were shot dead in the capital Kinshasa, at least three in the central town of Tshikapa and others in the party stronghold of Mbuji-Mayi on Thursday, Joseph Mukendi, an aide to the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), said.

     

    "We have identified 10 people shot dead across the country, while others remain to be confirmed," he said, adding "there were dozens wounded".

     

    The UDPS had called for a peaceful rally to protest delays in holding elections that were originally planned for 30 June under a pact to end a ruinous five-year civil war but put off for at least six months by parliament.

     

    Police have said at least one person was killed and probably more as they dispersed gatherings in various districts of Kinshasa after the authorities banned the marches.

    Water cannons


    Some 1000 people backing Congo's main opposition party, the UDPS, demonstrated outside the US Embassy and attempted to march to European Union headquarters and Congo's embassy in the city, demanding elections go ahead.

    "We have identified 10 people shot dead across the country, while others remain to be confirmed"

    Joseph Mukendi,
    aide to the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress

    Riot police and two water cannons were used to ensure the demonstrators did not make their way to the EU quarter.

    Several parked cars on the street were damaged as violence erupted between police and demonstrators.

    A similar protest last week caused damage to the Congolese embassy and led to talks between the opposition group and Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht.

    Meanwhile, the Belgian Senate also debated the situation in Congo and called for calm in the former Belgian colony.

    Urgent election calls


    The Senate called for the "urgent organisation of elections which should be monitored by EU observers".

    The long-awaited presidential elections were to have been held on Thursday, according to a 2003 peace accord between the government in Kinshasa and rebels agreed to at the end of Congo's five-year war.

    However, the commitment to hold the vote was pushed back to next year, after the transitional government said it needed more time.

    Thursday's protests also coincided with the 45th anniversary of the independence of Congo from Belgium.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.