Congo arrests 80 during protests against new prime minister

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Congolese police have arrested more than 80 people during demonstrations against the choice of a new Prime Minister, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups said on Tuesday.

Some estimates put the number of people arrested at 120 during rallies in the country’s main cities.

Police spokesman Pierrot Mwanamputu confirmed that dozens had been detained.

He said the protests were not authorised and that the protesters chose politically sensitive routes such as one leading to the parliament building in the capital Kinshasa.

The protesters opposed President Joseph Kabila’s decision on Friday to appoint Bruno Tshibala prime minister of a transitional government that is due to organise elections by the end of the year.

Tshibala belonged to the large opposition party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) until February, when disagreements arose over the succession of the party’s historic leader Etienne Tshisekedi after his death.

“Tshibala now represents a dissident wing of the opposition,’’ the new UDPS leader, Tshisekedi’s son Felix Tshisekedi said.

The main opposition accuses Kabila of violating an agreement that the opposition would choose the prime minister.

The elections due in November 2016 were postponed to an undetermined date this year.

Kabila’s critics regard the postponement as a manoeuvre to allow him to stay in power beyond the two terms allowed by the constitution. (dpa/NAN)

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