Over 50 people have been killed in clashes between anti-government protesters and police in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The fighting broke out in Kinshasa on Monday as thousands of opposition party supporters marched against DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila and his bid to extend his term.
The protests came amid increasing local and international pressure on Kabila to step down when his mandate ends in December. Opposition parties claim that he will attempt to extend his term by pushing back the elections.
The protesters ripped down Kabila’s posters while chanting, “it’s over for you” and “we don’t want you.” Earlier, Interior Minister Evariste Boshab referred to the protests as an “uprising.” He also said that three police officers were among the dead.
“By midday (1100 GMT), the sad and painful provisional toll from these barbaric and savage acts… (stood at) 17 dead, among them three police officers, one of whom was burnt alive, and 14 civilians who were involved in looting,” he said.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher Ida Sawyer noted that the Monday clashes were similar to those of last year, when dozens of people died.
“Today’s march shows that the security forces have not switched their tactics and are still clamping down on anyone opposed to Kabila,” she said. “People want their constitution to be respected and are willing to risk their lives to make sure that happens.”