Congo security forces fatally shoot 2 amid violent anti-govt protests – reports Congolese security forces have fatally shot two people during protests against President Joseph Kabila, Human Rights Watch claims. Kabila has refused to step down and imposed restrictions on the flow of information in the country.
“We are operating in the daytime. Everyone is watching us. It’s not the night,” police spokesman Pierrot Mwanamputu said, denying the allegations, according to Reuters. The country has been wracked by violence since an insurrection began in August.
According to activists on the ground, up to 75 people have already been arrested, with several people admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds in the capital Kinshasa.
Kabila vowed to hold an election to choose his successor by the end of 2017 but appears to have reneged on that promise, with the latest reports indicating that the election may be delayed by at least 12 more months.
Constitutional term limits preclude Kabila from running for office again, with opponents now fearful that he may refuse to cede power, a move which could trigger a return to the bloodshed of the Congolese civil war that claimed the lives of millions of people.
Calls for protest were made by Catholic activists in the country which reportedly led to security forces dispersing Sunday mass in several churches with the use of tear gas, according to opposition leader Vital Kamerhe.
Authorities have banned demonstrations and gatherings of more than five people, with regular checkpoints and security checkpoints established throughout the countryside. In addition, all internet and SMS services were ordered to be cut off until further notice.
“It is for reasons of state security,” Minister for Telecommunications Emery Okundji, who ordered a telecommunications shutdown by 6pm local time in Kinshasa, told Reuters. “In response to violence that is being prepared… the government has the duty to take all measures to protect Congolese lives.”
In addition, Congo joined over a dozen other African nations in limiting access to social media platforms in the past two years.