KINSHASA (Reuters) – Congolese opposition protesters rampaged down a main highway into Kinshasa on Tuesday,Â tearing down election posters and demanding the postponement of historic polls scheduled for Sunday.
The several hundred demonstrators, who want Democratic Republic of Congo’s first multi-party polls in 40 years to be delayed because of tensions and alleged flaws, clashed with riot police who beat them with batons while market women scattered.
The clashes followed complaints from the country’s powerful Roman Catholic Church and several election candidates that serious irregularities marred the organization of the presidential and parliamentary polls in the vast, former Belgian colony.
The elections are being supervised and protected by the largest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world at 17,000-strong at a cost of more than $400 million.
Shouting “Freedom, freedom”, the protesters from Congo’s UDPS opposition party threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police, blocking the main highway into the city from Kinshasa’s international airport, witnesses said.