Air France cancels flight to Kinshasa amid political unrest

The airline blamed the deteriorating local security situation for the cancellation of the flight.

Air France plane. Picture: Facebook.

PARIS - Air France said on Tuesday it had cancelled its morning flight to Kinshasa amid an escalation of street violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital over opposition claims the president wants to extend his mandate.

The airline blamed "the deteriorating local security situation" for the cancellation of the flight and said it was following events in Kinshasa carefully.

Armed men early on Tuesday set fire to the headquarters of one of the country's main opposition parties, leaving at least two people dead inside, a day after 17 people were killed in violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters.

Meanwhile, French President Francoise Hollande urged authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday to respect the constitution and to hold elections on schedule later this year.

Hollande, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, also blamed the Congolese authorities for violent clashes between security forces and protesters this week in which Human Rights Watch said at least 44 people were killed.

"These clashes were caused by abuses by the Congolese state itself ... The main opposition party's headquarters was attacked and even set alight. We can't accept such behaviour in any country and I want to condemn that," Hollande said.