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Paris cancels Congolese gig after anti-Kabila protests

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Police officers stand guard on the Opera square, near the Olympia, in Paris after the concert of Congolese artist Heritier Watanabe was cancelled on July 15, 2017 due to clashes near the concert hall by protesters. AFP/Gersende Rambourg

French police cancelled a concert by a Congolese singer on Saturday after violent protests around the venue by opponents of Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila.


Paris's police service said they had called off the event after "unacceptable" overcrowding by demonstrators around the Olympia music venue ahead of a planned performance by Heritier Watanabe - who is viewed as being close to Kabila.

Three people were arrested after a car was set on fire on a street near the venue, according to a police statement.

Authorities had earlier banned protesters from gathering due to a "risk of upsetting public order."

A lawyer for the venue told AFP that they had asked police to call off the concert "due to the difficult political context in DR Congo".

Several Congolese artists, including Watanabe, are frequently accused by opponents of Kabila of being close to his regime, having sung on the trail of his 2006 and 2011 election campaigns.

Political violence gripped the giant, mineral-rich country after Kabila failed to step down after his mandate ended in December.

Under a transitional deal aimed at avoiding further unrest, he was allowed to remain in office pending elections.

But the polls have been repeatedly delayed and the DR Congo's electoral commission said this month it would not be possible to hold a nationwide vote this year due to ongoing security issues, particularly in the central Kasai region