Tear gas fired in DR Congo at anti-Kabila protesters

Residents chant slogans against Congolese President Joseph Kabila during demonstrations in the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo"s capital Kinshasa, December 20, 2016.Image copyright

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Protesters say Mr Kabila is ruling the country illegally

Police have fired tear gas to disperse protesters demanding an end to President Joseph Kabila’s rule in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, witnesses say.

Gunfire was also heard in the second city Lubumbashi, but it was unclear who was behind the shooting, reports said.

Mr Kabila’s main rival said his refusal to step down amounted to a coup.

The president’s 15-year rule was supposed to end on Monday at midnight, but has been extended to 2018.

The electoral commission cancelled elections due last month, citing logistical and financial difficulties in organising them.

Mr Kabila has now formed a 74-member transitional government to lead the vast central African state until elections are held in 2018.

In a video posted on social media, main opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi called for peaceful protests to demand Mr Kabila’s resignation.

“I launch a solemn appeal to the Congolese people to not recognize the… illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila and to peacefully resist [his] coup d’etat,” Mr Tshisekedi said.

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Mr Tshisekedi has led calls for Mr Kabila to step down

Demonstrators have set up barricades and burned tyres in parts of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi in the south of the country.

Mr Tshisekedi’s message was not available in DR Congo where authorities authorities have restricted access to social media networks, the AFP news agency reports.

DR Congo has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Mr Kabila took power in 2001 following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila.

The constitution bars him from seeking a third term in office.

Tear gas fired in DR Congo at anti-Kabila protesters

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