Police and protesters clash in DR Congo after mediation talks collapse

Congolese police fire tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters who took to the streets of the country's capital Kinshasa after negotiators pulled out of efforts to convince the incumbent president to step down.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Protests took place against Congolese President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. March 28, 2017.

Updated Mar 29, 2017

Protests broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital on Tuesday after negotiations aimed at securing the departure of President Joseph Kabila collapsed.

Congolese police fired shots and tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who took to the streets in several areas in Kinshasa, the capital, after the talks broke down.

The bishops who are mediating the talks between Kabila's allies and the opposition said they will no longer host the negotiations after voicing frustration at the lack of a compromise. The implementation of a political transition pact mediated by the bishops and signed on December 31 has stalled after politicians failed to agree on issues such as the choice of a transitional prime minister.The talks were meant to pave the way for fresh elections.

A loud explosion and gunshots were heard as opposition members gathered outside the home of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, former leader of the DRC's main opposition party, UDPS. The incident took place during a news conference with his son, Felix, the new party leader.

"We think that there's no longer anything to do," Donatien Nshole, secretary general of the bishops' organisation, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo, said.

"We have given all our time and all our energy," he added.

Reacting to the bishop's decision, the opposition vowed to hold a nationwide protest on April 10.

The country has never experienced a peaceful handover of power.

Millions of people have died due to hunger and disease in conflicts in east Congo since the late 1990s when rebels ousted president Mobutu Sese Seko.

Kabila has ruled the central African copper producer since his father's assassination in 2001. His critics accuse him of deliberately delaying elections in order to remain in power.

TRTWorld and agencies