UN deployed in Congo after violence

Violence kills more than 70 in Bas-Congo as gubernatorial election result contested.

    The UN peacekeeping force sent 35 armed police to Bas-Congo following attacks on two UN vehicles [AFP]

    Kabila's Alliance of the Presidential Majority (AMP) won six of the nine governorships, while Bemba's coalition won only one, in his home province of Equateur.

     

    Bemba's Union of the Nation coalition failed to win the governorships of Kinshasa and Bas-Congo, where he has a visible popular following.

     

    Deaths

     

    Dolly Ibefo of Voice for the Voiceless, a Congo rights group, said that nearly 100 people had died in clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting against alleged corruption in the recent elections.

     

    "One of the things we condemn is the loss of life," said Kemal Saiki, spokesman for 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission (Monuc).

     

    "There are mechanisms to address grievances. We ask all parties to exercise restraint."

     

    Monuc has deployed 35 armed police to Bas-Congo following attacks on two UN vehicles, Saiki said.

     

    Colonel Jean-Paul Finda, advisor to the head of the Congolese army, said soldiers had been deployed to towns in the province in an effort to end the violence.

     

    Violence erupts

     

    Violence flared during a police raid on the home of Nemuanda Nsemi, the defeated candidate for vice-governorship, in the provincial capital Matadi.

     

    Nsemi, a member of defeated presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba's political coalition, is the spiritual head of Bundu dia Kongo, an anti-government ethnic-based political and religious movement.

     

    Monuc is the largest and most expensive
    mission in UN peace keeping operations [AFP]

    "They were mainly Bundu dia Kongo supporters protesting," said Leonard Fuka Unzola, Nsemi's running-mate and Bemba ally.

     

    Unzola filed a lawsuit against the results in Bas-Congo, and Bundu dia Kongo activists called for city-wide strikes and marches.

     

    Vote buying

     

    A hospital official in Matadi said more than 20 people were killed in clashes there, while in Boma, 50km to the west of Matadi, 26 people were killed, including both civilians and police.

     

    In Songololo, to the east of Matadi, local medical staff confirmed eight deaths. On the Atlantic coast in Moanda, witnesses said at least 23 people, including four policemen, were killed.

     

    Government officials have not released an overall death toll, saying they will wait for the completion of investigations launched on Friday, but a spokeswoman for Congo's national police confirmed the deaths of seven policemen and soldiers.

     

    Bundu dia Kongo followers previously clashed with police and army in June during the campaign period for Congo's first free elections in more than 40 years.

     

    According to a UN human rights report, 12 civilians and one soldier were killed when soldiers purposefully fired on Bundu dia Kongo supporters in a deliberate crack-down.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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