5 DRC stu­dents shot in clashes with po­lice

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

KINSHASA — Five stu­dents were shot and se­ri­ously hurt and 18 oth­ers injured Wed­nes­day dur­ing clashes with po­lice in Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo’s cap­i­tal Kinshasa dur­ing protests over tu­ition fees, a doc­tor said.

e protests at the Higher In­sti­tute of Ap­plied Tech­nol­ogy (ISTA) univer­sity came af­ter ad­min­is­tra­tors de­cided to al­ter the ex­change rate ap­plied to stu­dent fee pay­ments, sig­nif­i­cantly in­creas­ing costs — a de­ci­sion that was swiftly re­versed.

“We re­ceived 23 injured stu­dents of whom five had se­ri­ous gun­shot wounds and were trans­ferred to the Kokolo mil­i­tary hospi­tal,” said a doc­tor at the univer­sity’s med­i­cal cen­tre.

An AFP cor­re­spon­dent saw seven stu­dents — in­clud­ing a woman who had lost con­scious­ness — un­der ob­ser­va­tion at the univer­sity med­i­cal cen­tre.

Kinshasa po­lice chief told re­porters later that “the po­lice only used non-lethal weapons”.

More than 100 po­lice of­fi­cers sur­rounded the univer­sity site and fired tear gas at class­rooms.

“We are protest­ing against the ap­pli­ca­tion of an in­creased (ex­change) rate de­cided by the aca­demic au­thor­i­ties,” said Pa­trick Makonzo, vice-pres­i­dent of ISTA’s stu­dent union.

Ad­min­is­tra­tors had moved to change the Con­golese franc ex­change rate ap­plied to stu­dent fee pay­ments, which are fixed at $300 for the year, and would have re­sulted in a real-terms fee in­crease of around 16 per­cent.

“In the in­ter­ests of so­cial har­mony at ISTA we have de­cided to re­vise the ex­change rate (back),” said ISTA di­rec­tor gen­eral Kasen­ge­dia Mu­tumbe.

Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Theophile Mbe­mba, said on pub­lic tele­vi­sion late on Wed­nes­day that Mu­tumbe had been sus­pended from his du­ties pend­ing an in­quiry.

Anger at the univer­sity’s ini­tial de­ci­sion led to sev­eral in­ci­dents in­clud­ing the burn­ing of two ve­hi­cles and at­tacks on some nearby shopfronts.

“The po­lice were called to re-es­tab­lish order, dis­turbed by the stu­dents,” said the of­fi­cer in charge of the op­er­a­tion. — AFP

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