Nine arrested in DR Congo anti-Kabila protests

DR Congo. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Police in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Beni said they had arrested nine demonstrators during a march Tuesday against President Joseph Kabila, a day after clashes in the region that left five dead.

The nine were “from Lucha,” said Lisangi Nkumu, Beni’s deputy police chief, referring to a pro-democracy group, Struggle for Change, which is campaigning for President Kabila to leave office.

“They were demonstrating on the public highway without authorisation,” he said.

Police intervened

“They are being interviewed and will be handed over to the appropriate authorities.”

Lucha campaigner Regina Masinda told AFP that the police intervened shortly after the start of the march and “brutally” manhandled demonstrators who had their hands in the air and had sat down on the ground.

“Nine of us were arrested,” Ms Masinda said.

“We demand their release.”

On Monday, clashes in the nearby city of Goma left four civilians and a policeman dead, an AFP reporter said.

Twenty-eight people were arrested, two of them women, the police for North Kivu Province said.

Political tensions in the DRC are high after President Kabila failed to step down on the expiry of his second and final term last December.

Political violence

Elections were due to take place this year under a transitional deal reached last New Year’s Eve with the help of the Roman Catholic church.

But the country’s electoral commission says there will no vote before early 2019, mainly because of the problems of completing an electoral roll in the troubled central region of Kasai.

The uncertainty has stoked fears of a fresh eruption of political violence in a vast, poor country already struggling with ethnic divisions and fighting in its east.

Demonstrations have been banned or widely repressed since September 2016.

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