Violence Erupts in Congo on Final Day of Campaigning

Posted November 26th, 2011 at 9:40 am (UTC-5)
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Violence erupted in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo Saturday, the final day of campaigning before Monday's national elections.

News media reports say police used force to disperse hundreds of protesters in Kinshasa. The reports say one person was killed.

The top two presidential candidates, President Joseph Kabila and a main opposition challenger, Etienne Tshisekedi, are holding competing campaign rallies Saturday at nearby sites in the center of Kinshasa.

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.

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

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.

On Friday, Congolese election officials said they are ready for Monday's vote. A senior electoral official, Jacques Djoli Eseng'Ekeli, told VOA that training for poll workers is complete and said all voting materials have been delivered to regional headquarters.

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.