UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila's guard kills demonstrator
NAIROBI, 16 April (IRIN) - President Laurent-Desire Kabila's presidential guard opened fire on demonstrators in Kinshasa, killing one woman, as crowds booed the DRC leader and stoned his cortege on Monday.
The demonstration followed the government's decision on Sunday to allow steep oil price increases, which in turn triggered a sharp hike in transport fares in the capital, sources in the capital told IRIN on Friday.
"People's living standards have collapsed and they have been eating less and less, especially as prices have shot up since the devaluation of the Congolese franc a few weeks ago," media sources said. "The transport fare increases were the last straw."
A number of demonstrators were also arrested after street protests, which included the burning of vehicles, in the Kingasani area of Kinshasa on Tuesday.
The civil unrest moved the governor of Kinshasa to broadcast a message asking the population to remain calm. The authorities' lifting of the night curfew in the capital on Tuesday was interpreted by observers as a bid to appease people and bring calm to the city.
Economic life in Kinshasa has been severely disrupted by the price increases, residents told IRIN. Most of the city's bus and taxi operators decided not to operate on Monday because their fares had not been increased in line with the price of petrol. That left a large part of the population walking and many employees unable to get to work.
Conditions in Kinshasa were described as "pretty bad", with the stock of goods shrinking due to a ban on foreign currency and inflation sky-rocketing. "The city is now more expensive than Tokyo," one resident said.
Humanitarian sources said aid agencies are seeing an unprecedented number of children with malnutrition and many people in the capital are reportedly getting less than half the minimum daily calorie requirement.
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 17:10:08 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: DRC: Kabila's guard kills demonstrator 
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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