France on Monday blamed Congolese security forces for the shooting dead of at least six people and wounding of dozens during a protest against President Joseph Kabila organised by the Catholic Church.
“France strongly condemns the violence perpetrated by the security forces during the demonstrations organised on Sunday,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
“It reiterates its call for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, starting with the right to protest.”
Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016 has triggered a series of street protests in which scores have been killed in Kinshasa.
It has also emboldened armed rebel groups in different parts of the country.
In the statement, France called for the proportionate use of force in the maintenance of law and order.
The instability has stoked fears that the vast, mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo could slide back into the wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.
UN mission in the Congo said six people were killed during the protests, 73 wounded and 115 people arrested.
Congolese police said that two people had been killed and a number of police officers wounded.
There was a heavy police presence on the streets of the capital with security forces firing teargas at demonstrators after the protest was banned by the authorities and the government blocked access to the internet.
The central African country’s powerful Catholic Church was instrumental in organising the protests and has been a voice of opposition to Kabila.
Several people were also killed in New Year’s Eve protests organised by the church.
Kabila has promised to hold elections in December.
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