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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 26 November, 2014

Four dead after pre-election clashes in DR Congo

The election is almost certainly expected to return President Joseph Kibala to power, analysts say.

Presidential guardsmen stand under the stained campaign poster of Congolese President Joseph Kabila following clashes with supporters of opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi at Kinshasa Airport.
Presidential guardsmen stand under the stained campaign poster of Congolese President Joseph Kabila following clashes with supporters of opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi at Kinshasa Airport.
Image: AP Photo/Jerome Delay

FOUR BODIES WERE recovered on Sunday after clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital ahead of a critical national poll, a police official said today.

Police inspector general Charles Bisengimana said the bodies were taken to a Kinshasa morgue. He said opposition supporters attacked supporters of the president during clashes yesterday.

He also blamed opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi for refusing to leave the airport where his supporters had gathered to greet him. Riot police manned the airport until late yesterday to prevent Tshisekedi and his convoy from leaving the scene.

Bisengimana said the situation was calm throughout the country today. Yesterday’s violence prompted officials to ban rallies before tomorrow’s poll.

Violence erupted among political supporters who had gathered to greet Tshisekedi, who had planned to come to the airport. Supporters of the president also gathered there to meet him, though he did not pass through the airport.

At the airport, security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition into the burgeoning crowd.

President to retain power

Scuffles erupted on the road to the airport, and two dead bodies were seen on that road. It was not known if those two men were among the four bodies taken to the morgue.

On Sunday, African Union chairman Jean Ping expressed concerns about the poll from the neighbouring Republic of Congo.

“The situation in Congo has worried us for a long time,” he said in the city of Brazzaville, which is separated from Kinshasa by the Congo River.

In a press release issued Sunday, he said he “deplores the violence that took place in Kinshasa (Saturday), which resulted in loss of life, as well as the various other incidents that marred the election campaign.”

Human rights groups had expressed fears about an atmosphere of spiraling violence and hate speech ahead of the vote. The outcome of the vote is almost certain to keep President Joseph Kabila in power.

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