Police in Congo Ban Rallies on Last Day of Campaigning

Posted November 26th, 2011 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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Police in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo have banned political rallies after a person was killed on the last day of campaigning before Monday's national elections.

The top two presidential candidates, President Joseph Kabila and opposition challenger, Etienne Tshisekedi, had planned to hold competing campaign rallies Saturday at nearby sites in the center of Kinshasa.

Despite the ban a top official in Tshisekedi's political party says the challenger is still holding a rally. He says the rally will take place in a stadium where supporters of Mr. Kabila have also been gathering.

Earlier Saturday, police used force to disperse hundreds of protesters in Kinshasa. Media reports say one person was killed.

In previous campaigning, supporters of the two politicians have clashed in the capital and in the country's second-largest city, Lubumbashi.

On Friday, an electoral observer from the U.S.-based Carter Center told VOA that competing rallies are raising concern there could be violence between supporters of the rival candidates.

Ten candidates are challenging President Kabila in Monday's presidential election, and more than 18,000 people are running for 500 seats in the national assembly.

Political analysts in Congo believe Mr. Kabila will win re-election, partly because much of the opposition vote will be split among three candidates.

The United States, European Union and United Nations have expressed concern about election-related unrest and violence, and the International Criminal Court has said it will prosecute any perpetrators of election-related crimes.

Mr. Kabila has been president since 2001, when he took office after the death of his father, Laurent. He won the country's last presidential election in 2006.