Kabila Plunges Congo Capital in Chaos as 17 Die in Pro-Democracy Protest

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Blood in the streets of Kinshasa

Congo's government has banned all protests against President Joseph Kabila after 17 people died during pro-democracy protests today in Kinshasa, the capital.

Opposition members claim as many as 50 people may have been killed.

Images from Congo show bodies of blood-stained victims apparently shot dead by Kabila's security forces.

The government said three of those dead are security personnel. Witnesses say angry demonstrators burned alive a police officer.

Congo has been roiled by violence as Kabila seems poised to delay presidential elections. He is constitutionally obligated to step down after his second term expires before the end of this year.

Kabila has made no serious plans to hold elections, fueling tension in the mineral-rich country.

Kabila seems inclined to prolong his regime, in line with similar schemes by Uganda's dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda's Paul Kagame. The former is widely reported to have rigged the election in February while the latter scrapped term limits so he can run perpetually.

But Kabila faces formidable opposition. Supporters of 83-year-old veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi have vowed to defy the ban and continue their protest until he's driven from power.

Congo's regime spokesperson Lambert Mende blamed the demonstrators for "targeted looting" in order to create "total disorder."

The marchers had intended to march on Congo's Parliament to press for Kabila to stand down when his term expires in December.

Conditions remain volatile on the streets of Kinshasa.

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