Congo police fire tear gas at demonstrators

Anti-referendum protests continue in Brazzaville, Congo's capital despite authority’s ban on public gathering

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Congo police has fired a tear gas on Tuesday to disperse thousands of demonstrators protesting against a scheduled referendum on constitutional reform, claiming that Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso was aimed to extend power.

The demonstrators gathered in some central neighborhoods in resistance of a government ban on public meetings announced on Monday.

Protestors were also waving banners reading "Sassou get out" and "No to the referendum."

Police fired on air, however demonstrators were defiant, remaining on streets burning tires and erecting barricades on major roads.

According to a Reuters, at least two protesters were wounded also shops, schools and public offices remained closed.

"People are demonstrating across the city. The police are firing tear gas bombs," said Tresor Nzila, executive director of Congolese Observatory of Human Rights. "In certain places, the police have fired warning shots with live fire."

"In order to allow the electoral campaign to continue without injury or provocation, the government has decided to forbid the use of certain meeting spaces," Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou, the Congolese communication minister said.

Sassou was first elected in 1979 and served as president until 1992. However, he returned to power in 1997.

It is not the first time Sassou has called for such a referendum. In the past he has called for a "national dialogue" which resulted in removing the age limit for presidential candidates and increasing the limit on the number of terms a candidate can stand for election.

Congo's opposition has described Sassou’s actions as a "constitutional coup."

TRTWorld and agencies