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20:46, 26 May 2018 Saturday
Update: 15:49, 21 January 2018 Sunday

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DR Congo blocks internet ahead of banned protests
DR Congo blocks internet ahead of banned protests

Catholic church leaders have called for a mass peaceful demonstration against Kabila's 17-year rule, three weeks after a similar protest on New Year's Eve that ended in deadly violence.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo blocked the internet in Kinshasa and set up roadblocks throughout the city ahead of planned protests Sunday demanding that President Joseph Kabila leave power.

The authorities have banned all demonstrations, and at around midnight (2300 GMT Saturday), the internet, email and social media messaging networks were cut in the capital, AFP correspondents said.

Security forces have installed roadblocks on major routes into Kinshasa, while armed officers are conducting ID checks.

The church has also called for rallies in several other cities including Lubumbashi and Goma, but the government has banned all demonstrations since September 2016, when anti-Kabila protests turned violent.

The head of the Muslim community in DR Congo has backed the church, urging the authorities to allow the march to take place despite no official permission being granted.

"I ask the authorities to avoid repressing the march," Cheikh Ali Mwinyi M'Kuu, legal representative of the Muslim community, told AFP on Saturday.

"If they decide to repress, there will be no peace. But if they let the march take place, they will respect the constitution and peace will prevail."

The previous anti-Kabila march, on December 31, descended into a bloody crackdown after police and security forces opened fire on demonstrators.

Protest organisers said 12 people were killed, while the United Nations reported at least five dead. The authorities said no deaths that day were linked to the demonstration.

The country's powerful Catholic Church, one of the few institutions to nationally enjoy broad credibility, condemned what it called "barbarism" and the UN and France sounded their concern over the death toll.



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