Kinshasa, Feb 26 (AFP) Two people were killed during weekend marches in the Democratic Republic of Congo calling for President Joseph Kabila to quit, the latest of several demonstrations forcefully put down by authorities. Also Read - Zomato Receives 4,100 Orders Per Minute on New Year's Eve, CEO Deepinder Goyal Live-Tweets Stats

Bishop Donatien Nshole, whose organisation supported the rallies, told AFP one man was killed in the capital Kinshasa and another died when he was shot by a guard in the northwestern city of Mbandaka during Sunday’s rallies. Also Read - New Year's Eve: Over 1,300 Challans Issued in Delhi Including 26 For Drunken Driving

The head of the UN’s DR Congo mission Leila Zerrougui said in a statement she “regrets that at least two people were killed… despite instructions given to security forces to show restraint.” She called on “the Congolese authorities to conduct credible investigations into these incidents and to hold those responsible accountable.” She also stressed the “importance of upholding the rights of the Congolese people to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.” The Congolese police said no one had died during the demonstrations but later changed tack, saying two “troublemakers” had died in the unrest. Also Read - With Bonfire and Camaraderie, How Farmers at Delhi's Singhu Border Welcomed 2021

Colonel Rombaut-Pierrot Mwanamputu said on Okapi radio that one of the “troublemakers” had sought “to create disorder” and was injured by a rubber bullet. He died in hospital.

A group linked to the influential Catholic Church said as many as three million people had taken part in rallies nationwide, though this figure was not possible to independently verify.

In DR Congo’s second city Lubumbashi, youths set tyres on fire before being dispersed by riot police.

The Church-backed protests came after months of tension sparked by Kabila’s prolonged rule and a long-delayed election in the vast and chronically unstable country.

Kabila was due to stand down from office in December 2016, ending his second elected term, but he has controversially stayed on under laws enabling him to retain power until his successor is elected.

In January, he accused the Catholic Church of interfering in Congolese politics.

Previous protests on New Year’s Eve and January 21 saw a total of 15 people killed by security forces, according to tolls given by organisers and the United Nations.

The government said just two people died. (AFP) UZM UZM

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.