John Walsh
Displayed with permission from International Business Times
A History Of The Democratic Republic of Congo

At least 34 people have been killed by government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of nationwide protests over the country’s president refusing to step down from office after his term expired, Reuters reported. President Joseph Kabila was still in power at the time the Thursday report was published.

Congolese police have been squaring off with anti-Kabila activists since Monday when Kabila did not step down despite his presidential term ending at midnight that day. Government security forces utilized tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to subdue the boisterous crowds, prompting The U.S., Britain, the European Union and the United Nations to all condemn the Congolese government and its security forces for violating human rights when outlawing the protests.

A statement issued by U.S. government on Tuesday pressed Kabila’s security forces to “Respect the rights of Congolese citizens to assemble peacefully and express their opinions without fear of retaliation, retribution, or arbitrary arrest.”

While the large majority of those who lost their lives were protestors shot and killed in the streets by government security forces, some were pedestrian bystanders who died from being in caught in the crossfire, a representative of the Human Rights Watch said.

Evidence indicated that between 19 and 26 people were killed in Kinshasa and the country’s second most populated city of Lubumbashi during demonstrations on Monday night and Tuesday. Roughly 50 people were injured, the Guardian reported.

As for incarcerations, Congolese police spokesman Col Pierre Mwanamputu said 275 people had been detained since Monday and 116 were still behind bars.

A Congolese constitutional court verdict in October ruled that Kabila could remain the president until his successor was elected democratically, according to Africa News Tuesday. But anti-Kabila demonstrators accused the leader of purposely allowing his presidency to expire without holding an election in order to stay in power.

Congolese government authorities have said that an election hasn’t happened yet because of financial impediments. Therefore, the election is currently scheduled for April of 2018.

The Catholic Church in Congo has played an intricate role in mediating between the protester’s demands and the will of the government. Church representatives have made it their goal to resolve the political conflict by Christmas.