| KINSHASA, April 3
KINSHASA, April 3 Congolese police deployed
heavily across the capital Kinshasa on Monday as opposition
calls for a general strike after a breakdown in talks with
President Joseph Kabila's allies last week raised fears of
Security forces in Democratic Republic of Congo killed
dozens in protests over election delays last year but the strike
appeared to be peaceful on Monday morning as stores and banks
were shuttered and streets quiet.
With police deployed at bus stops and intersections, there
were only a handful of cars on the central boulevard in
Kinshasa, a city of more than 10 million people, and the
normally bustling central market was shut.
"I couldn't go to work... It's my way of supporting the
opposition. We want change," said an employee of the central
bank who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions.
Kabila's failure to step down when his two-term mandate
expired in December has further destabilised the loosely
governed central African giant, where millions died in regional
wars from 1996-2003.
Catholic bishops helped negotiate a deal in December that
required Kabila to step down following elections before the end
of 2017 but withdrew from their mediation role last week after
The decision prompted sporadic unrest in Kinshasa last week
and the country's largest opposition party, the UDPS, has called
for a nationwide protest on April 10.
The eastern city of Goma was also quiet on Monday except
for a strong military presence, residents said. In the mining
hub of Lumbumbashi, a storekeeper said businesses were opening
but several hours late.
"This is a message to the leaders to tell them that things
are not right," said Bijoux Kahambu, a Goma resident.
Repeated strikes and demonstrations by the opposition last
year failed to force Kabila to stand down at the end of his
mandate, and the government said it planned to get on with
business as usual.
The presidency said in a statement that Kabila would consult
with "different groups of the concerned political and social
class" on Monday and Tuesday in order to revive the December
Kabila denies opposition charges that he is trying to cling
to power, saying the election delays are due to challenges
registering millions of voters.
Congo has never experienced a peaceful transition of power
and an insurgency in its central Kasai region has killed
hundreds since last August.
(Writing by Nellie Peyton and Aaron Ross; Editing by Catherine