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Congolese Protesters Burn Tires, Urge President to Quit: Witnesses

Congolese opposition activists gesture during a march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016.

Congolese opposition activists blocked roads with burning tires and security forces fired shots in the capital Kinshasa on Monday, witnesses said, amid mounting concerns that President Joseph Kabila plans to delay an election and hold on to power.

Kabila's term as leader of Democratic Republic of Congo expires in December and he is barred by the constitution from seeking another term. He took power in 2001 after his father was assassinated and has since won two elections.

But the opposition says he is plotting to stay in power, a suspicion boosted on Saturday by the election commission's decision to formally petition the constitutional court for a postponement of the presidential election.

The commission says an overhaul of voter rolls is needed that will last until at least next July.

Monday's protests, in the Ngaba and Yolo districts of Kinshasa, erupted ahead of a planned march to press for Kabila's resignation, the witnesses said. Dozens of people have died and many others were arrested in similar protests since last year.

Last week the government held talks to set a new election timetable. Most opposition parties boycotted the negotiations and opposition figures who were involved rejected a proposal to push back the presidential vote until the end of 2018.

Congo has never experienced a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.