Lead up to Congo Elections Marred by Violence, Civil Servant Warns of War
October 27, 2006
There has been an escalation of violence leading up to Sunday’s upcoming presidential runoff election in the Democratic Republic of Congo between President Joseph Kabila and Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba according to two Washington Post reports. Supporters of the two sides have clashed violently throughout the week which has included vandalism and physical attacks against one another. U.N. Peacekeepers were needed on Friday to rescue Kabila-allies from a gun fight from Bemba loyalists, then “police stepped in to stop a clash between rival political demonstrators” according to Reuters. The report also states that four people were killed in the exchange.
President Kabila is expected to win the run-off election after receiving 45% of the vote in the first round, short of the majority vote needed to avoid the second round. Congolese civil servant Emmanuel Isangya has “warned of civil war if Kabila won,” blaming the President for the countries woes. The violence has prohibited either candidate from campaigning outside of the capital, reflecting the Washington Post claim that there “are people with weapons everywhere.”
The European Union has bolstered its support “backing up the world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo,” in response to “fears of serious violence during or after the poll.” Human Rights Watch has also called on the two candidates to “take urgent steps top reduce tensions” surround the election. The official results from the poll are not expected for three weeks following the vote.
Reuters: Tense Congo awaits poll as U.N. rescues politician
Washington Post: Shooting in north and capital ahead of Congo poll
Washington Post: Violence casts shadow over Congo poll