DR Congo: UN Mission deplores loss of life as police, protesters clash in capital

Police officers trying to maintain calm during demonstrations in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: MONUSCO

Police officers trying to maintain calm during demonstrations in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: MONUSCO

DR Congo, 20 January 2015 – The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today condemned the deaths and injuries that occurred when protests turned violent on Monday in the streets of the country’s capital, Kinshasa.

Martin Kobler, head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO), deplored the deaths and injuries in the wake of the clashes that occurred yesterday morning as ‘a result of violent demonstrations and the ensuing use of lethal force by the security force.’

“The use of force by law enforcement officers must always be necessary, proportionate, and a measure of last resort,” he emphasized in a statement from his office.

According to MONUSCO, the protests came following the Government opposition’s call for demonstrations against the revision of the electoral law voted by the National Assembly on Saturday evening. Protesters gathered in front of the ‘Palais du Peuple’ and a violent crackdown by security forces with tear gas and live ammunition ensued.

Clashes with law enforcement officers took place in Lemba, Matete, Ngaba and Victoire, neighbourhoods surrounding the ‘Palais du Peuple’ in Kinshasa.

In some districts of the capital city, shops were looted and buses torched.

“I also appeal to the opposition to demonstrate peacefully. Protests must be calm and carried out in compliance with the law,” said Mr. Kobler.

Preliminary reports put the estimated toll at several dead and injured among both the demonstrators and the law enforcement officers.

Protests also took place yesterday morning in Goma, in North Kivu province and Bukavu, in South Kivu province.