Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces in Kinshasa Monday, demanding that longtime Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila step down. At least eight people died in the city, including three police officers, with reports that the body of one officer was burned in the suburb of Limete. Reuters also reports protests in Goma, Bukavu, and Beni, resulting in the detention and arrest of journalists and anti-Kabila activists.
A total of 17 people including 14 civilians have died in clashes that erupted over the weekend, Congolese officials said, although estimates continued to rise throughout the day. Violence similar to the 2015 clashes seen across the DRC has escalated since the beginning of September, prompted by the government’s rejection to plan elections before year’s end. Monday was the deadline for beginning an electoral process that Kabila’s government wants pushed back to 2018.
The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa also expressed outrage on social media Monday, saying officials “strongly protest” the harassment of Thomas Perriello this weekend at the airport in Kinshasa.
Perriello, U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, was completing a trip to assess the deteriorating situation in the DRC when he was confronted by a member of Kabila’s political party at Ndjili International Airport, according to Bloomberg News.
The verbal attack, which did not escalate into a physical altercation, comes two days after the U.S. State Department warned of additional sanctions against the Congolese if they use violence or repression amid protests in the increasingly volatile nation.