Activist dies in Democratic Republic of Congo unrest

An opposition activist has been shot dead in Democratic Republic of Congo during clashes with police in Kinshasa.

The fighting came after the offices of the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress were set alight, and an opposition TV station was attacked.

UDPS activists said police had opened fire with live ammunition. The police have not yet commented on the claims.

UDPS candidate Etienne Tshisekedi is the main challenger to President Joseph Kabila in an election set for November.

Some of the gang that attacked the UDPS offices wore T-shirts of Mr Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), a witness told Reuters news agency.

DR Congo’s Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu Mulenda told a news conference the attacks may have been retribution for a similar attack on a PPRD building on Monday.

“Probably reacting to the attack on the inter-federal seat of the PPRD, some troublemakers have sacked the offices of the UDPS and RLTV television channel,” he said.

Several people have been injured in various clashes over the past few days, says the BBC’s Thomas Hubert in Kinshasa, adding that the capital remains tense.

Kabila has ruled the central African country since 2001, when he replaced his assassinated father. He won the first free and fair elections in four decades in 2006, triggering an investment boom focused mainly in the southern Copper Belt.

“This time the confrontation is much more serious” than clashes between protestors and the police in July, Marc-Andre Lagrange, a Congo analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said in an interview. “We still have to see how capable the National Independent Electoral Commission is in bringing confidence back into the election process.”

UDPS President Etienne Tshisekedi, a veteran opposition leader, says that the ruling party is planning to rig the November presidential poll in the world’s top producer of cobalt, a metal used in rechargeable batteries.

Tshisekedi boycotted the 2006 election. The UDPS now wants access to the electoral commission’s server, which contains election data, and a list of the nation’s polling stations with their addresses to ensure the count is fair, Mayamba said. Police used tear gas and gunfire last week to break up protests campaigning for the access.