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DR Congo police fire tear gas to prevent banned rally

drc-riots
Recent riots related to term limits in DRC.

Kinshasa, DR Congo | AFP | 

Police fired tear gas and fanned out across the capital of DR Congo on Saturday to prevent a banned opposition rally seeking the exit of President Joseph Kabila this year.

DR Congo has been going through political turmoil which deepened last month after the presidential election, which had been due before the year’s end, was postponed until April 2018.

The opposition has accused Kabila, who has been in office since 2001, of manipulating the electoral system to stay in power after his second term ends on December 20.

Police fired five tear gas shells in the morning to disperse some 60 opposition supporters gathered near the residence of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi near central Kinshasa, an AFP reporter said.

An opposition supporter was injured in the head by a projectile and two men were arrested.

A strong police force deployed across the city, with some of the officers armed with water cannons.

The signal for Radio France-Internationale, one of the most popular stations in francophone Africa, was cut off on Saturday but the station could be accessed on another waveband from Brazzaville, the capital of Congo, which is separated from Kinshasa by the Congo river.

The main dissident coalition Rassemblement (Gathering) — which has rallied around Tshisekedi — has called for a public meeting on Saturday to examine the “political issues of the day” at a site not far from the parliament building.

But following a wave of deadly political violence in September, city officials banned all unauthorised gatherings, with police vowing to enforce the ban.

The police had on Thursday said “no disturbances of the public order would be tolerated”.

A wave of deadly violence shook Kinshasa in mid-September when the security forces cracked down on demonstrators ahead of an anti-Kabila rally that sparked clashes that killed at least 53 people, according to UN figures.

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