The Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition party has called for mass protests to “protect” the victory it claims to have won in last month’s disputed presidential election.
Jacquemin Shabani, secretary general of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP), made the call for “peaceful and democratic demonstrations” on Wednesday, without giving a time or place.
Etienne Tshisekedi, the UDSP leader, was incumbent president Joseph Kabila’s main rival in the November 28 vote, in which Kabila was declared the winner with 49 per cent of votes while Tshisekedi took 32 per cent, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).
Tshisekedi has rejected those results, with the European Union, the non-profit Carter Center and other election monitors voicing concern about the credibility of the polls. They cited problems in the vote count and the loss of huge numbers of ballots.
The United States said on Wednesday that the elections were “seriously flawed”, though it was unclear whether the “irregularities” changed the outcome.
“We encourage the relevant Congolese authorities to closely review these cited irregularities and proceed with maximum openness and transparency,” Victoria Nuland, a state department spokeswoman, said in a statement.
“We believe that the management and technical execution of these elections were seriously flawed, lacked transparency and did not measure up to the democratic gains we have seen in recent African elections,” she said.
The call for protests comes amid a widening crackdown on opposition protests, including one on Wednesday in which demonstrators reported multiple injuries.
On Wednesday, the The Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reported that a volunteer who had been injured on November 28 when an identified assailant attacked a first post during the pre-election violence in the capital, had died of his injuries in a hospital on December 7.
The Red Cross Society strongly condemned the “violence used against a person carrying out the purely humanitarian activity of assisting wounded people”. It said there was a lack of respect for its emergency services. Police on Tuesday stopped opposition supporters from marching in the eastern cities of Bukavu and Goma, whose mayors had banned protests.
In Lubumbashi, the country’s second-largest city, the elite presidential guard dispersed a protest on Wednesday, injuring several people. About 30 local leaders from the the UDSP were marching towards the main courthouse to protest the closure of their headquarters. After local residents joined the march and numbers swelled to about 250, members of the presidential guard intervened, according to UDSP member Fabien Mutomb.
“It was a peaceful march,” Mutomb said. “We were surprised to see a military arsenal deployed in front of us. The presidential guard intervened violently.
AL JAZEERA, NEWS AGENCIES