Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jan 3, 2018 / 00:08 am
Eight people were killed and more than 120 were arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during church-organized protests held Sunday calling for President Joseph Kabila to step down.
The dead were killed Dec. 31, 2017 by security forces. Seven were in the capital, Kinshasa, and one was in Kananga.
The country's bishops have asked that Kabila not seek a third term as president. He has been in power since 2001.
His two-term limit expired in December 2016, but he has refused to step down and has not allowed elections to be held.
The Church played a crucial role as mediator in negotiations that led to an agreement reached at the end of 2016 that Kabila would step down following elections to be held in 2017. Those elections were not held, and have now been delayed at least another year.
Catholic churches, as well as Protestant, had called for peaceful marches to be held to protest the delay of elections. Permission for marches was denied in Kinshasa, and police fired live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas into churches to prevent would-be protesters from gathering.
Text messaging and internet services were ordered to be shut down for “reasons of state security”, the New York Times reported.
St. Michael's parish in Kinshasa was forced to close when tear gas was fired into the sanctuary, and at the city's St. Joseph's parish, 12 altar boys were arrested.