At least 11 people are dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a deadly clash between police and protesters Tuesday, according to Al Jazeera. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Kinshasa, beating on loud drums while calling for the resignation of President Joseph Kabila.
Eye witnesses have accused the police of opening fire on protesters and there have been reports of a muffled explosion near the presidential palace in the lavish suburbs of Gombe.
In a conflicting report, the United Nations’ mission in the DRC earlier announced that about 20 people were killed in the clashes.
However, DRC’s Minister of Communications, Lambert Mende, refuted those numbers, saying “In Kinshasa, there were nine dead, not a single one more.”
Violence was also reported in other major cities including Lubumbashi.
Brewing Civil Unrest
Since July, opposition leaders and their supporters have been protesting the postponement of presidential elections that were set for November.
They accuse the incumbent president of delaying the poll in an attempt to extend his mandate, which ended Tuesday at midnight.
In a petition to the country’s Constitutional Court, DRC’s electoral commission requested for the postponement after officials said they didn’t have the necessary resources to conduct the poll.
The court granted the request and postponed elections by seven months.
Following Tuesday’s deadly protests, DRC’s main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, has called on his supporters to peacefully resist Kabila.
“I launch a solemn appeal to the Congolese people to not recognize the illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila and to peacefully resist (his) coup d’etat,” Tshisekedi said in a video posted on YouTube.
In the past, Kabila has attempted to negotiate a coalition government with the opposition, but talks have ended in limbo, raising fears that the country could be headed for a deadly civil war.
The DRC hasn’t experienced a democratic transition of power since gaining independence in 1960. Kabila rose to power 15 years ago after his Father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in 2001.
DRC is the second-largest country in Africa and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and it’s one of the most populated countries in Africa with over 80 million people.
The country is also the largest producer of cobalt ore globally and a major producer of copper and diamond.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI