Deadly clashes erupt as DR Congo protest for President to step down

Deadly clashes erupt as people of the Democratic Republic of Congo protest for their current President Joseph Kabila to step down after his mandate expired.

Joseph Kabila Kabange commonly known as Joseph Kabila aged 45, has been President of the Democratic Republic of Congo since January 2001. In accordance to the constitution adopted by DR Congo in the year 2006, Kabila’s term was due to expire on the 20th of December 2016.

On the 19th of December 2016 Kabila’s spokesperson stated that Joseph Kabila would remain in post until a new President is in place following elections which will not be held until at least April 2018.

President Joseph Kabila.

According to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Kabila should not be allowed to serve more than two terms. This has caused massive protests from the citizens of DR Congo from the 19th of September 2016 till now, calling for him to step down as legally mandated.

Demonstrators took to the streets, beating on improvised drums and shouting slogans against Joseph Kabila who has led the country since 2001, since the death of his father, Laurent Kabila.

There were reports of gunfire in several areas of the capital city. A muffled explosion was also heard in the posh quarter of Gombe, where the presidential palace is located. Residents said tear gas shells were fired in other areas.

Eleven people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the protests. Nine people have lost their lives in the capital Kinshasa, a protester and a policeman were also killed in the second-largest city Lubumbashi.

“In Kinshasa there were nine dead, not a single one more,” Lambert Mende said as Kabila appeared set to stay on despite the conclusion of his mandate.

Jean-Claude Kazembe, Lubumbashi’s governor, said that along with the two fatalities, three people had been hurt in clashes in the city.

The opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, has advised the Congolese people to peacefully resist Joseph Kabila.
The ruling party and some opposition leaders have still agreed to schedule an election in April 2018, at the earliest, leaving Kabila in office until the vote. But the main opposition bloc rejects this plan.

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