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Congo Opposition Maintains Pressure


Congolese army soldiers patrol the streets of Goma near the Rwanda border in Congo
Calm returned to Congo's capital Kinshasa Friday, a day after protests calling for the government's resignation turned violent. While the United Nations said there had

been some excesses by the security forces there was relief the violence did not spin further out of control. The opposition party leading the demonstrations has repeated its call for the population to put pressure on the transitional government to quit.

The rocks and burned tires that littered the strees were cleared away, busses and taxis reappeared and Kinshasa's residents returned to work Friday, a day after anti-government demonstrations turned violent in the chaotic capital.

Estimates for the death toll from Thursday's violence range from two to 14 dead. At least 20 people were injured and over 450 arrested during the clashes between heavily armed

security forces and protesters calling for the government to resign.

The opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress slammed the government for its handling of the demonstrations and repeated a call for demonstrations until further notice.

Remy Masamba, the party's secretary general, denied charges that they were calling for anarchy, saying the structure of Congo's post-war transitional government needed to be changed in order to organize free and fair elections.

The UDPS is calling for a fresh dialogue between all Congolese political parties, not just the factions that currently dominate the transitional government.

Fears had been mounting that the protests, combined with the social and economic misery of millions living in Kinshasa, could spiral out of control.

The U.N. says police used excessive force in some cases, but officials from the peacekeeping mission in the Congo expressed relief that the situation had not degenerated further.

Post-war elections were due to be held in Congo by the end of June but government wrangling, logistical delays and fighting in the east have meant they will have to be delayed until mid 2006.

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