World

At least 12 dead in Congo unrest over electoral law critics say would extend president's term

  • Anti government protestors gather, with some burning  tires, during a protest against a new law that could delay elections to be held in 2016, in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, The revised election law will require a national census be carried out before elections can be held in 2016, that could have the effect that President Joseph Kabila remains in power after his mandate expires in 2016. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)

    Anti government protestors gather, with some burning tires, during a protest against a new law that could delay elections to be held in 2016, in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, The revised election law will require a national census be carried out before elections can be held in 2016, that could have the effect that President Joseph Kabila remains in power after his mandate expires in 2016. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Anti-government protestors block a road and  burn  tires during a protest against a new law that could delay elections to be held in 2016, in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, The revised election law will require  a national census be carried out before elections can be held in 2016, that could have the effect that President Joseph Kabila remains in power after his mandate expires in 2016. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)

    Anti-government protestors block a road and burn tires during a protest against a new law that could delay elections to be held in 2016, in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, The revised election law will require a national census be carried out before elections can be held in 2016, that could have the effect that President Joseph Kabila remains in power after his mandate expires in 2016. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rocks are seen in a main street as anti government protestors burn tires during a protest against a new law that could delay election to be held in 2016, in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, The revised election law will require  a national census be carried out before elections can be held in 2016, that could have the effect that President Joseph Kabila remains in power after his mandate expires in 2016. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)

    Rocks are seen in a main street as anti government protestors burn tires during a protest against a new law that could delay election to be held in 2016, in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, The revised election law will require a national census be carried out before elections can be held in 2016, that could have the effect that President Joseph Kabila remains in power after his mandate expires in 2016. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)  (The Associated Press)

Officials say at least a dozen people are dead amid protests over a proposed law the opposition fears will prolong the president's time in power.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said Thursday that 12 people have died in three days of unrest and pillaging that began Monday.

But a coalition of human rights groups says 42 people were killed by security forces firing on protesters.

An uneasy calm returned to the capital Thursday, but four more people died during demonstrations in the country's east.

Lawmakers in Congo's lower house have passed a measure requiring a census before presidential elections next year.

Critics say that would in effect delay elections. The Senate adjourned Thursday before its own vote.

President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, is barred from running again.