Hundreds of opponents of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila began a dead city strike on Tuesday but were met with force from riot police who fired teargas to disperse them.
The opposition protesters were demanding for Kabila to step down when his mandate ends in December.
The Congolese opposition refused to hold talks led by the AU and instead made demands for the regional organization’s mediator, former Togolese Prime Minister Edem Kodjo to be replaced and all political prisoners freed.
In a sign of compromise, Kabila’s government has pledge to free at least two dozen political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to ease the tension for dialogue.
The opposition accused Edem Kodjo of siding with Mr Kabila.
Elections which were to be held in November were pushed to 2017, which the opposition says is a delaying tactic to help Kabila clinch on to power for another year. Government says the delay is because ‘nothing is ready’ for the polls.
Western countries urged Kabila to respect the two terms limit set in the troubled country’s constitution and step down to prevent political tensions from reigniting a war that has killed millions from 1996 to 2003.
No fatalities were reported during the protest outside the opposition coalition head office.
Reuters reported that the city center rush hour seemed lighter than usual, and in the surrounding suburbs, especially opposition strongholds such as Limete, many Congolese stayed at home and shops were boarded up.