The Mercury

Protests in DRC over poll delay plans


KINSHASA: Congolese opposition activists blocked roads with burning tyres and security forces fired shots in the capital Kinshasa yesterday, witnesses said.

The action came amid mounting concerns that President Joseph Kabila plans to delay an election and hold on to power.

Kabila’s term as leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo expires in December and he is barred by the constituti­on from seeking another term. He took power in 2001 after his father was assassinat­ed and has since won two elections.

But the opposition says he is plotting to stay in power, a suspicion boosted on Saturday by the election commission’s decision to formally petition the constituti­onal court for a postponeme­nt of the presidenti­al election.

The commission says an overhaul of voter rolls is needed that will last until at least next July.

Yesterday’s protests, in the Ngaba and Yolo districts of Kinshasa, erupted ahead of a planned march to press for Kabila’s resignatio­n, the witnesses said.

Dozens of people have died and many have been arrested in similar protests since last year.

Last week the government held talks to set a new election timetable. Most opposition parties boycotted the negotiatio­ns and opposition figures who were involved rejected a proposal to push back the presidenti­al vote until the end of 2018. – Reuters

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