Beni (Congo) – Dozens of people were on Thursday arrested as police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), police clashed with demonstrators around the country in a fight about the timing of national elections.
An official said on condition of anonymity in Beni (Congo) that the opposition parties took to the streets to demand that elections be held in November, as scheduled.
The source said there has been widespread concern that President Joseph Kabila may postpone them in order to extend his 14-year rule.
The source says opposition parties are complaining that Kabila has been in office since 2001 and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.
He said they feared that he could delay the poll after the country’s top court has cleared any form of extension.
He said police used tear gas and fired bullets in the air to disperse thousands of protesters in the capital, Kinshasa.
“Similar incidents were reported in Kananga, Butembo, Goma and Beni.
“In Goma, soldiers were deployed to open roads which had been blocked with rocks and lorries,’’ he said.
Witnesses in Goma said a demonstrator was shot dead.
Ida Sawyer, from Human Rights Watch, said a student was hit by a truck and killed in Butembo, while police were dispersing protesters.
He said more than 30 people were reported to have been arrested, including three opposition politicians in Kananga.