U.S. Urges Dialog Among Congo Parties to Stem Political Crisis

The U.S. called on Democratic Republic of Congo’s president and the opposition to engage in talks aimed at reaching an “inclusive” political agreement as protests turn deadly.

“We urge both the government and opposition to cooperate fully and in good faith with Democratic Republic of Congo’s Conference of Catholic Bishops when discussions resume December 21,” the U.S. embassy in Congo said Wednesday in a statement on Twitter.

As many 20 people may have been killed by security forces on Tuesday during protests against President Joseph Kabila, who has declined to leave office after his official two-term ended December 19, according to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Another 150 people may have been arrested, according to Jose Maria Aranaz, the agency’s director in Congo.

The U.S. wants Kabila to end politically motivated prosecutions and to state publicly that he won’t run again or seek to change the constitution, according to the statement. Congo, Africa’s biggest producer of copper, cobalt and tin, has never had a democratic transfer of power.

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