Congo’s security forces shot, burned, stabbed and beat to death at least 48 people during opposition protests in September against a delay in elections that would keep President Joseph Kabila in power beyond his mandate, a UN human rights report said Friday.
Two days of violence saw at least 140 people injured, 299 arrested and 53 people killed, the UN report said. The dead included four police officers, and protesters were responsible for killing at least three of them, the report said.
The government did not immediately comment on the report.
Opposition parties had called for the Sept. 19 demonstrations to protest the election delay, calling it an effort by Kabila to hold onto power. The constitutional court earlier had ruled that Kabila could remain in office beyond his mandate, which ends in December, until elections could be held.
The UN special representative of the secretary-general for Congo, Maman Sidikou, urged Congolese authorities to conduct independent, credible investigations and bring perpetrators to justice.
“This is particularly crucial in this volatile pre-electoral context,” Sidikou said.
A 5-year-old child was among the vast majority of victims who were shot by security forces, including the national police, republican guard soldiers and army, the new report said. Local and international journalists were harassed, detained and arbitrarily arrested.
Many people worry such violence will worsen as elections, once scheduled for Nov. 27, are now expected in early 2018.
Government, some opposition parties and other negotiators signed an agreement Tuesday calling for the vote to be held in April 2018. But the biggest opposition party, which boycotted the talks, rejected the deal.
The agreement came a day after Congo’s constitutional court approved a request by the electoral commission to postpone the vote.