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Opposition strike cripples Kinshasa

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A strike called by the opposition to force the Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila to step down at the end of his term has crippled businesses in the capital.

Shops in Kinshasa were closed and streets were mostly empty, says the BBC’s Poly Muzalia in the city.

The government dismissed the strike as the work of “radicals having some old-fashioned fun”.

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The opposition fears Kabila wants to delay elections due in November.

Police also fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered in the capital.

The one-day strike was most successful in Kinshasa, which has a population of about 11 million, our correspondent says.

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However, business activities were also slow in Goma, the main trading centre in the east, he adds.

A coalition of opposition groups, headed by veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi, is boycotting talks aimed at resolving differences over the elections.

It says Togo’s former Prime Minister Edem Kodjo, whom the African Union (AU) has appointed as a mediator, is biased towards Kabila.

Delays in organising the election have compounded opposition fears that Kabila plans to stay on despite a constitutional ban on him serving a third elected term.

The election commission has said a voter registration drive in the vast central African state of about 70 million people will not be completed by December.

In May, an opposition presidential candidate Moise Katumbi fled to South Africa after an arrest warrant was issued for him.

He was accused of hiring foreign mercenaries in an alleged plot against the state, which he denied.

DR Congo has a long history on instability and has never had a smooth transfer of power since independence in 1960.

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