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UN rights office condemns civilian deaths in Congo

[JURIST] The UN human rights office on Monday expressed concern [press release] over reports that at least 101 people have been killed by Congolese soldiers in conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The deadly clashes have been between the Congolese militia, Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), and local forces, known as the Kamuina Nsapu militia, primarily in the region of Dibaya in Kasai Central Province. Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the UN was "deeply concerned" at the reports, highlighting claims that the armed militia has indiscriminately openly fired on local forces, who have spears and machetes, with machine guns and killed approximately 39 unarmed women. Throssle condemned the actions of FARDC soldiers calling on them to " abide by acceptable standards of national law."

The DRC and surrounding region has seen a high level of conflict in the past decades, and the extension of presidencies has been a contributing issue in many African nations. Last October violent protests erupted [JURIST report] in the country after the electoral commission announced that the next presidential election, originally scheduled for November 2016, would be pushed back to 2018. The commission stated that it needed more time to prepare supplies and voter registration lists. In the beginning of 2016 former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged African leaders to avoid using loopholes and undemocratic constitutional changes to "cling to power" [JURIST report]. In 2015 protests and demonstrations [JURIST report] took place across the DRC to oppose the proposed changes in the law that would allow Kabila to extend his presidential term past the allotted two-year limit, and the government was accused of using excessive force against these protesters. Recently, leaders of multiple African countries announced [JURIST report] that they backed a "strategy of collective withdrawal" from the International Criminal Court however, the United Nations has advocated against [JURIST report] these departures.

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