DR Congo Candidates Urged to Avoid Hate Speeches

Posted October 28th, 2011 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Political candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being urged to avoid hate speech as they campaign for upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Campaigning for the November 28 poll opened on Friday.

Human Rights Watch told VOA that since March, the organization has documented dozens of cases of “apparent ethnic hate speech and incitement to violence.”

The group's senior researcher on Congo, Anneke Van Woudenberg, said incendiary speeches must stop if the elections are to be free and fair.

Human Rights Watch also accuses police of using excessive force against opposition demonstrators, raising questions about whether the polls will be be free and fair.

President Joseph Kabila is facing a divided opposition as he seeks a second term.

Human Rights Watch says politicians and supporters of parties aligned with President Kabila have referred to opposition supporters as mosquitoes that need to be exterminated.

This will be only the second democratic elections since Congo won independence in 1960.

The Carter Center, a widely respected monitoring group, says it has received reports of threats and intimidation at campaign events, posing “serious” credibility threats to next month's polls.

Earlier this month, Mr. Kabila promised to step down if he is defeated, adding, in his words, “I know one thing for sure, I will not lose.”