UN urges DR Congo leader to keep promise to resign
United Nations: UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to abide by an agreement to leave power, after at least eight people died in protests against his rule.
Kabila, in power since 2001, signed a deal with opposition groups a year ago agreeing to step town once his current term ends and new elections are held.
But violence has swelled in the giant, troubled African nation after the date of the new vote was pushed back to December 2018, prompting fears that Kabila may seek to extend his reign.
"The secretary-general urges all Congolese political actors to remain fully committed to the 31 December 2016 political agreement, which remains the only viable path to the holding of elections, the peaceful transfer of power and the consolidation of stability in the DRC," Guterres' office said in a statement late yesterday.
Eight people were killed yesterday and dozens arrested as Congolese security forces cracked down on protesters who defied a government ban to demonstrate in Kinshasa and other cities.
Troops fired tear gas into churches and bullets in the air to break up gatherings at Catholic masses, in one case arresting 12 altar boys leading a protest in the capital.
"The secretary-general calls on the government and national security forces to exercise restraint and to uphold the rights of the Congolese people to the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly," Guterres' statement said.
DR Congo, rich with mineral wealth but plagued by violence, has not had a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.