World, Africa

Congo: After call for protests, demonstrations run riot

Opposition urges protest of government's failure to implement power-sharing deal after president stays in power past his term

Congo: After call for protests, demonstrations run riot FILE PHOTO

By Godfrey Olukya

ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo saw continued demonstrations nationwide Thursday, after a call by the opposition leader for protests of the government’s failure to implement a power-sharing agreement reached last December.

But the demonstrations turned to violence and property destruction, with police using teargas and shooting in the air to disperse the crowds.

Young protesters carried tree branches and burned tires in the streets while shouting and chanting, demanding implementation of the agreement.

Rioters burned down the offices of the national insurance company before they were dispersed by police, said police Sgt. Tom Mbiligi, and one policeman was also injured.

In the city of Lubumbashi in Upper Katanga, hundreds of young men took over the streets and stopped vehicles from moving.

''In Lubumbashi especially in the suburb of Kapemba, hundreds of young men demonstrated on the streets. They have been dispersed by policemen and soldiers,” Mbiligi added.

Security officer Lt. Nelson Mwana Mbule told Anadolu Agency, “The police have had running battles with youths in the suburbs of the capital Kinshasa, including Gombe, Kalamu, Lamba and Ngaba, where hundreds of youths have been demonstrating.''

Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the opposition coalition, had called for demonstrations demanding for implementation of last December’s power-sharing agreement.

He has accused President Joseph Kabila of not wanting to implement the deal, including its provision that the prime minster should come from the opposition.

Although the opposition coalition endorsed Tshisekedi as the sole candidate for premier, Kabila and his camp insist that they should present him three names to choose from.

The Catholic Bishops who were mediating the talks have said they had pulled out because the two parties had failed to agree.

Kabila's term of office expired on Dec. 16, 2016 but he did not relinquish power, saying the electoral commission was not ready to hold elections. That resulted into riots in which about 50 people died. It prompted the Catholic Bishops to organize the failed peace talks between the two sides.

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