Published: Wed, January 03, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Internet restored in DRC after deadly protests

Internet restored in DRC after deadly protests

Several people were hurt when Congolese security forces violently broke up demonstrations on Sunday against President Joseph Kabila and an officer threatened to shoot journalists covering the unrest, AFP reporters witnessed.

"I invite you to take ownership (of the voting process) and exercise your right through this process", he added in a pre-recorded speech broadcast on state television.

Catholic churches and activists had called for peaceful demonstrations after Sunday mass, one year after they oversaw the signing of an accord that set a new election date to ease tensions in the mineral-rich country. The DRC authorities also say a policeman was killed when a police station came under "attack".

Police spokesman colonel Rombaut-Pierrot Mwanamputu, said that "no deaths" had occurred in the context of the demonstrations.

Internet was restored in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday after the government cut services for three days on the eve of protests against the president, AFP reporters said.

Protesters want Kabila to promise he will not further extend his time in power in DRC, a mostly Catholic former Belgian colony.

Kabila has been in power since 2001.

More than 100 protesters have been detained so far by the police.

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Human Rights Watch Central Africa director Ida Sawyer said Congolese security forces shot dead two men outside St. Alphonse church in the Matete district.

"Press, or not, no one is allowed inside".

"We can only denounce, condemn and stigmatise the behaviour of our supposedly courageous men in uniform, who, sadly, and no more or less, are channelling barbarism", he said.

A churchgoer who asked not to be named described to AFP how officers dispersed worshippers from one mass in Kinshasa.

Despite pressure from overseas, the authorities seem intent on pursuing a clampdown, flooding cities with police and troops whenever the opposition tries to make a show of strength, analysts said.

"Freedom of worship, guaranteed in every democratic state, was assailed, churches were desecrated and members of the faithful, including altar boys and priests, were physically assaulted", it said, demanding a "serious and objective investigation". Police responded with tear gas in some areas of Kinshasa. Kabila has refused to step down and imposed restrictions on the flow of information in the country.

The poll has since been postponed until December 2018.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende earlier alleged that "weapons of war have been distributed" by opponents of the government.

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