DR Congo blames UN after eight hurt in student protest

Student protests were recently held in Kinshasa. (AFP pic)

KINSHASA: Eight people were injured during a student demonstration against soaring public transport costs in DR Congo’s capital on Monday, with a minister accusing the United Nations mission of inciting the protests.

Six students were hurt, two seriously, in clashes with police, said Dr Guylain Mboyo from the medical centre at the applied science institute ISTA in the capital Kinshasa.

“Two of our employees were also hurt,” he added.

Tertiary education minister Steve Mbikayi accused the UN mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, of “being behind the students’ demands on Monday”.

“People in two MONUSCO jeeps incited the students to demonstrate by asking them questions about their demands,” he said.

“At this exact moment the blast of a whistle was heard, kicking off the protest.”

MONUSCO spokesperson Florence Marchal rejected the allegations, saying that officials and police from the organisation were deployed to observe “possible violations of human rights and not to incite violence”.

Witnesses said police dispersed ISTA students at midday in their second protest against public transport costs.

Fourteen students were arrested in the first such demonstrations across three campuses on Thursday after transport prices rose 40% at the start of the month.

Tensions have been running high between the government and the UN mission for several months and the government has said it wants MONUSCO to leave the country in 2020.

The UN has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the vast central African country, with at least 13.1 million Congolese in need of aid.

MONUSCO is the UN’s largest peacekeeping force, with more than 16,000 troops and nearly 1,450 police, as well as many civilians.