By Staff Reporter
Violence flared for a third day in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa on Wednesday amid mounting anger over plans to delay the country’s presidential election.
Twenty-eight people have been killed since Monday in anti-government protests, according to a local human rights organisation. The authorities put the death toll at five, including two police officers.
Protesters oppose a draft law they say would delay the 2016 presidential election and enable President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power beyond his current mandate.
Kabila came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001 and won elections in 2006 and 2011. The constitution bars him from standing for a third term.
But critics say the government’s plans to revise the electoral law and order a national census in thevast, impoverished country will delay the election and extend his stay in power.
The government’s bill was adopted by the lower house of parliament last week and is currently being examined by a Senate commission.
Opposition leaders have vowed to continue protests until the proposal is withdrawn.
‘Kabila get out!’
AFP news agency said gunshots were heard at the University of Kinshasa on Wednesday as police cracked down on a student demonstration.
Two shots rang out as dozens of students shouted “Kabila get out!” faced off against a small group of police officers. In the Ndjili neighbourhood, near Kinshasa’s airport, youths destroyed a police vehicle.
This came a day after angry crowds torched a town hall in Ngaba, in the capital’s south, while several prisoners escaped from a neighbouring building. Looters also made off with police guns stored at the site.
On Tuesday, longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who is recovering from illness in Belgium, urged the Congolese people to force a “dying regime” from power.
Foreign powers have called for restraint and urged Congolese authorities to respect the election timetable.
In a statement published on Wednesday, the European Union said “all sides should seek a consensus allowing a return to calm”, adding that “respect of the electoral calendar as fixed by the constitution is central to the debate”.
Earlier, Russ Feingold, the US envoy to the Great Lakes region, called for “peaceful, credible, and timely elections”
Police in the DRC capital have violently dispersed demonstrating students of Kinshasa University. This is the third straight day of protests against a proposed revision to the country’s electoral code that could delay a presidential election slated for 2016.
Students burned tyres and barricaded the road leading to the University of Kinshasa, in the south of the city on Tuesday.
At least four people died in clashes on Monday. The senate was set on Tuesday to examine the bill that would require a census before 2016 elections. Critics say any census would take at least four years and is a ploy to extend President Joseph Kabila’s tenure beyond the end of his mandate.
The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday condemned the deaths and injuries that occurred when protests turned violent on Monday in the capital, Kinshasa.
Clashes with law enforcement officers took place in Lemba, Matete, Ngaba and Victoire, neighbourhoods surrounding the ‘Palais du Peuple’ in Kinshasa.
In some districts of the capital city, shops were looted and buses torched.