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DRC Opposition Says President is Working to Delay Elections


Protesters begin to assemble near parliament in Kinshasa, DRC.

Protesters begin to assemble near parliament in Kinshasa, DRC.

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo broke up opposition demonstrations across the country Thursday. Two people are believed to have been killed in the eastern city of Goma.

The march was organized by a group of leading opposition parties to protest what they claim are President Joseph Kabila's efforts to stall elections until he can change the constitution to allow him to seek a third term.

The Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that Kabila can stay in office if November elections are postponed.

Opposition leader Eva Bazaiba said her message for Kabila is that his mandate ends Dec. 19, 2016. She said if elections are not organized by then, the opposition will consider Kabila a putschist and someone who has violated the constitution.

Around mid-morning, several thousand protesters in Kinshasa began to move in a sea of colorful flags.

One young man said Kabila must understand his mandate has come to an end, and that the Congolese people are hungry and thirsty for democracy.

But the cheerful atmosphere quickly turned tense when the protesters moved onto the main thoroughfare toward the government district. They were confronted by lines of policemen who fired canisters of bright pink tear gas into the crowd. Protesters began throwing rocks.

The Kinshasa police say demonstrators failed to follow the route the organizers and the town hall had agreed on.

The march dispersed after it became clear it would not be able to reach its intended destination.

Demonstrations were also banned in other parts of the country. Police clashed with protesters in the eastern city of Goma.

Police are accused of using live bullets on the crowd. A U.N. human rights monitor told VOA that one protester was shot dead and two others injured, while a police officer was killed by stones thrown by the crowd.

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