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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Kinshasa rally broken up
Zimbabwe soldier in Kinshasa
Kinshasa has many political parties but little democracy
By Mark Dummett in Kinshasa

Armed police have broken up a demonstration by opposition party supporters in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The planned demonstration by Congo's four largest opposition parties was never allowed to get off the ground.

Along the length of Kinshasa's main road, the Boulevard du Trente Juin, plain clothed security personnel and heavily armed policemen were out in force.

When eventually a group of protesters unfurled a banner and began singing - several jeeploads of policemen suddenly materialised, dispersed the crowd and arrested about 40 protesters.

The opposition parties had promised so much more - a large rally to voice their support for talks between themselves, the government and rebels who control half the country.

Ban

The government however has so far given no indication it is prepared to discuss anything with the political opposition.

Though officially lifting restrictions on their activities two months ago, the parties complain they can still not hold meetings or rallies.

Last week a press conference given by their leaders was broken up - and Monday's demonstration - the largest planned since President Joseph Kabila came to power in January - was never given permission to go ahead.

One pro-government paper accused the opposition of being in league with the rebels - another said Kigali and Kampala - the capital cities of the neighbouring countries behind the rebellion, Rwanda and Uganda - were coming to Kinshasa.

But even though there are some 500 such parties in the capital alone, none have much support.

Monday's demonstration won't have changed that.

See also:

16 Sep 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Welcome to DR Congo
21 Jul 00 | Africa
DR Congo parliament heads south
17 Jan 01 | Africa
Timeline: DR Congo conflict
17 May 01 | Africa
DR Congo political ban lifted
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