Violent protests in DRC kill at least 17; opposition offices burned

violent-protests-in-drc-kill-at-least-17-opposition-offices-burned.  KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital of Kinshasa is seeing violent political protests in which at least 17 people died and opposition party headquarters have been burned.

Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila, seen here addressing the United Nations in New York City, is banned from running for president after his current term ends this year. The opposition in the African country fears Kabila will postpone elections in order to cling to power, which has generated deadly protests. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Police and protesters clashed on Monday in Kinshasa. The opposition said over 50 people died but the government said at least 17 were killed, adding the death toll could rise further.

Interior Minister Evariste Boshab said three police officers were burned alive. Witnesses said police fired live ammunition into a crowd of protesters after they threw stones.

The headquarters of three opposition parties were torched overnight and at least two charred bodies have been found. The opposition is demanding President Joseph Kabila step down from his post by December.

Kabila took power in 2001 after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated. The DRC’s constitution bans Kabila from running again. The African country has scheduled elections in November, but opposition groups fear Kabila will postpone the poll in order to remain in power.

The country’s electoral commission was to announce a date for presidential elections on Monday but said it would not be able to hold the poll in November.

The opposition coalition, made up of the Innovative Forces for Union and Solidarity, Lumumbist Progressive Movement and the Union for Democracy and Social Progress parties, have rejected a government order banning protests.

The opposition coalition called on its supporters to protest again on Tuesday despite the ban. Most opposition parties have boycotted a government-backed effort to find a solution to the political crisis.

By Andrew V. Pestano