DRC Catholic leader denounces police action

Archbishop urges people to use "all legal and peaceful" means to oppose president Kabila's bid to change election law.

    Riots broke out in Kinshasa over President Kabila's plan to extend his terms in office [EPA]
    Riots broke out in Kinshasa over President Kabila's plan to extend his terms in office [EPA]

    The leader of the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has urged the government to "stop killing your people" after 11 people were killed in protests in the capital, Kinshasa.

    The archbishop of the mainly Christian country weighed into the discussion on Wednesday following a spate of protests in Kinshasa over legislation that that would enable Kabila, who has been in power for 14 years, to extend his term beyond 2016 when his second mandate ends.

    "Certain political figures, along with law enforcement agencies, are sowing despair and creating insecurity," Archbishop Laurent Monswengo said in a statement.

    We denounce these actions which have caused death and we are launching this plea: stop killing your people.

    Archbishop Laurent Monswengo,

    "We denounce these actions which have caused death and we are launching this plea: stop killing your people."

    He called on the people of the troubled central African country to use "all legal and peaceful" means to oppose the bid to change the election law to postpone polls.

    In the capital, gunshots rang out on Wednesday during a confrontation between students and police at Kinshasa University.

    Dozens of students shouted "Kabila get out!" as police descended on the area to stop the demo and block others around the university.

    In another neighbourhood, youths destroyed a police vehicle and police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the protesters.

    Twenty-eight people have been killed since Monday, according to a local human rights organisation, while the government's spokesman put the latest death toll at 11 - one police officer and 10 protesters.

    The situation was calm later on Wednesday, with no reports of further deaths.

    'Dying regime'

    Many African presidents have tried, and often succeeded, to stay in power by rewriting their countries' constitutions to get rid of limits on presidential terms.

    Last year, Burkina Faso's president Blaise Compaore was chased from power when he tried to change the constitution to extend his mandate.

    On Tuesday, hundreds of youths torched a town hall in Kinshasa, while several inmates escaped from a prison and looters made off with police weapons.

    At least 20 people were arrested as protesters pelted state buildings, public buses and even passing cars with rocks.

    Opposition parties have called for mass demonstrations against the new electoral bill which is now being debated in the Senate after being approved by the lower house.

    Speaking from Belgium on Tuesday, DR Congo opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi called on the Congolese people to force a "dying regime" from power.

    Tshisekedi, 82, who is in Europe recovering from illness, has been in opposition since the 1960s, previously taking on the leader Mobutu Sese Seko as well as Kabila's father Laurent Kabila.

    Kabila, now 43, is the son of former president Laurent Kabila who as a rebel leader in 1997 toppled Mobutu.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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