‘Why bid to kill Congolese people?’
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