UN chief appeals for calm after DRCongo election violence
Publisher: AFP
Story date: 27/11/2011
Language: English

KINSHASA, Nov 27, 2011 (AFP) – UN chief Ban ki-Moon on Sunday appealed for
calm after deadly violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo marred the
final day's campaigning ahead of national elections.
But in the statement, issued from New York, Ban warned the government that
it had "primary responsibility" for maintaining peace.
His appeal came after two people died and police clashed with the main
opposition candidate and his entourage Saturday, the final day of campaigning
before Monday's elections.
"I call on all political leaders and the people of the Democratic Republic
of the Congo to exercise restraint throughout the process to ensure that the
elections are held in a peaceful and secure environment," Ban said.
All sides needed to respect the constitution and election laws, he said.
But he added: "I stress the primary responsibility of the government of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo for maintaining a secure environment for the
elections," Ban said.
Two people were killed in campaign-linked violence Saturday and opposition
leader Etienne Tshisekedi was engaged in a stand-off with police when he tried
to defy a ban on political rallies.
National police chief General Charles Bisengimana and 300 of his officers
blocked 78-year-old Tshisekedi and his entourage for several hours at Kinshasa
airport.
Police eventually pushed members of his 20-car entourage into their cars
with shoves and baton blows and forced the motorcade to drive off.
Kinshasa police had called off the last campaign rallies Saturday after the
campaign-related violence earlier in the day. Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu
said two people had died.
But apart from "a few incidents", the election campaign had passed off
peacefully across the country, he added.
Kinshasa governor Andre Kimbuta, an ally of President Joseph Kabila, also
said the ban was for security reasons, accusing Tshisekedi supporters of
carrying stones, machetes, knives and petrol bombs.
The violence closes a tense campaign marred by a series of street fights
between rival supporters.
Amid the chaos of the final day of campaigning, the national election
commission also cancelled for the second time a press conference on its
efforts to get ballots delivered in a country two-thirds the size of western
Europe and with a crumbling and limited road network.
The commission has been running behind schedule throughout the process,
raising fears the vote could be delayed.
Ban, in Sunday's statement, praised the "notable work" of the Independent
National Electoral Commission, supported by the government, in getting the
elections ready on time.
The elections are only second here since back-to-back wars from 1996 to
2003, the scars of which are still fresh.
 

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