‘Why bid to kill Con­golese peo­ple?’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

KIN­SHASA: Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo po­lice have fired tear gas at sup­port­ers of op­po­si­tion leader Eti­enne Tshisekedi and banned his “swear­ing-in” cer­e­mony, say­ing Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila is the legal­ly­elected head of state.

The po­lice used tear gas to dis­perse op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers gath­ered near Tshisekedi’s res­i­dence and made sev­eral ar­rests yes­ter­day.

Ar­moured ve­hi­cles of the Repub­li­can Guard and a large num­ber of po­lice also took up po­si­tions around the cap­i­tal’s main Mar­tyrs Sta­dium where Tshisekedi had called on his sup­port­ers to at­tend his “swearingin”. They also used tear gas at the sta­dium. “It’s banned. There is al­ready an elected pres­i­dent who has been sworn in. It’s an act of sub­ver­sion,” a source close to the head of po­lice said.

“Such a rally would be desta­bil­is­ing for the regime in place.”

Ka­bila, in power since Jan­uary 2001, took nearly 49 per­cent of the vote, with Tshisekedi sec­ond with 32 per­cent. Ka­bila was of­fi­cially sworn-in on Tues­day. Tshisekedi, 79, con­tends that he won the poll but was de­nied vic­tory by mas­sive fraud. His sup­port­ers re­peated that ar­gu­ment.

“All the Con­golese peo­ple voted for him. Why do they want to kill the Con­golese peo­ple,” a sup­porter said. “Look, they have de­ployed ar­moured cars. For what? These should be sent to the east where there is war.”

The govern­ment has pledged to probe al­leged post-vote po­lice killings, as Hu­man Rights Watch said se­cu­rity forces had killed at least 24 peo­ple and “ar­bi­trar­ily” ar­rested dozens since Ka­bila’s vic­tory was an­nounced.

“Se­cu­rity forces have been fir­ing on small crowds, ap­par­ently try­ing to pre­vent protests against the re­sult,” the watch­dog’s se­nior Africa re­searcher An­neke van Wouden­berg said. Af­ter in­ter­view­ing 86 vic­tims and wit­nesses, the watch­dog said it had dozens of un­con­firmed re­ports of killings and at­tacks by se­cu­rity forces.

Ka­bila’s vic­tory was up­held even af­ter in­ter­na­tional ob­servers de­cried elec­toral con­di­tions, cit­ing prob­lems in the vote count and the loss of huge numbers of bal­lots. Hu­man Rights Watch said: “the po­lice and other se­cu­rity forces ap­pear to be cov­er­ing up the scale of the killings by quickly re­mov­ing the bod­ies”. – SAPA-AFP

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