The South African government has expressed concern about the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has called on all parties to seek only peaceful solutions to the political challenges.

This would be in line with the Constitution of the DRC and the United Nations Security Council resolution which calls for dialogue which must lead to the holding of presidential and legislative elections as soon as possible in 2017, the Department of Internationals Relations and Co-operation says in a statement.

Pretoria supports the outcomes of the National Political Dialogue facilitated by the facilitator appointed by the African Union (AU), Edem Kodjo, as well as the current National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) direct talks led by President Marcel Utembi.

The South African government encourages the participants to the current CENCO-facilitated talks to resume on 21 December 2016, as agreed, the department said in a statement here Tuesday.

South Africa likewise renews the call on all stakeholders to uphold the principles, ideals and aspirations of the Congolese people as enshrined in the DRC Constitution in accordance with the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) and AU principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

South Africa continues to call on all parties to exercise restraint and to take urgent steps to end the violence and restore the protection given to the people of DRC through its Constitution.

Violent protests have erupted in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, with protesters demanding that President Joseph Kabila step down after his second term officially expired on Tuesday. The DRC constitution imposes a limit of two terms for its president but Kabila is seeking a third term,.

Pretoria said these incidents threaten the hard-won democratic gains made by the DRC through the past two elections. Likewise, the Congolese Diaspora is urged to work through their political leaders in the DRC, and not to resort to violence, the department said.

Meanwhile Pretoria police have arrested nine people during a violent protest at the DRC Embassy here Tuesday. The police said in a statement that two buses ferrying 250 people arrived at the embassy where an unauthorised protest took place.

The protest turned violent as stones were thrown at the embassy building, damaging windows and the front gate of the embassy. A member of the Diplomatic Policing Unit was disarmed by protestors and his firearm was stolen.

The South African Police Service (SAPS), including members of the Public Order Police, dispersed the crowd and nine people were arrested on various charges including malicious damage to property and public violence.