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Congo anti-government march turns violent, at least 50 dead

The United States has threatened further sanctions against those responsible for violence and repression in Congo. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo Sep 19, 2016, 10.35 PM (IST)
At least 50 people were killed in clashes between anti-government protesters and Congolese police on Monday. 

The opposition is protesting in the capital Kinshasa against President Joseph Kabila's bid to extend his mandate unconstitutionally. 

Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Kabila, who has ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001. They have also called for further demonstrations.

Angry crowds torched the offices of politicians loyal to Kabila and tore down giant posters of the president.

Rights groups reported dozens of arrests of protesters and journalists in the capital as well as in Goma and Kisangani, where anti-government marches also took place.

"Today's march shows that the security forces have not switched their tactics and are still clamping down on anyone opposed to Kabila," said Ida Sawyer, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The opposition has accused Kabila of plotting to extend his tenure by delaying elections that were supposed to be held in November until at least next year. His supporters have denied the charge. 

"The sad and painful death toll from these barbaric and extremely savage acts is as follows: 17 dead of which three were policemen," said Interior Minister Evariste Boshab, condemning "the use of violence to incite disorder and chaos".

There has been growing international pressure on Kabila to step down when his term ends in December. 

The latest violence has prompted a threat of further sanctions from the United States on those responsible for violence and repression.

It had imposed targeted sanctions on a Kinshasa police chief in June.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon too urged Congolese national security forces to exercise restraint.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault added that European nations will discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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