Congo in whirlwind of protests

Reportedly security forces killed at least seven people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday during protests against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down from office, United Nations peacekeepers said.

A police spokesman confirmed three people had been killed in altercations with security forces in Kinshasa, and that two of the deaths were investigated.

Catholic activists had called for protests in the capital after Sunday worship, one year after Kabila committed to holding an election to choose his successor by the end of 2017 – an election that has now been delayed for one year until December 2018.

The break of the promise, reflected in a delay has caused suspicions that Kabila will attempt to change constitution to justify his longer stay in a similar way to presidents in neighboring countries. The perspective has raised fears of turmoil or even of civil war.

Florence Marchal, spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, said security forces had shot dead at least seven people in Kinshasa. Another person was killed in a protest in the central city of Kananga, she said, although the cause of death was not yet clear.

 U.N. observers documented at least 123 arrests across the country and a number of serious injuries so far.

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