|Opposition leader Tshisekedi has proclaimed himself the winner of the presidential elections [AFP]|
Clashes between opposition protesters and security forces have broken out in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing at least six people, a day after election authorities named Joseph Kabila, the incumbent president, winner of a disputed poll.
Gunfire rang out in a number of cities across the country on Saturday, after Kabila’s main challenger, Etienne
Tshisekedi, said he rejected the official results and declared himself the new leader of the vast central African
Kabila’s administration quickly condemned Tshisekedi’s declaration and described it as “an irresponsible act that violates the laws of the republic”.
Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege reporting from Kinshasa said that Tshisekedi’s move to name himself president was futile.
“There is hardly any room for opposition to expect the result to be overturned at the supreme court where the result will be ratified. This means that the opposition is dependent on their supporters to take to the streets”.
But security forces have barricaded areas considered to be opposition strongholds, where violence seems to be continuing, our correspondent said
Meanwhile, the Associated Press news agency reported that police in an unmarked car were seen rounding up young men in opposition neighbourhoods of Kinshasa.
Anneke Van Woudenberg, Human Rights Watch senior researcher, told AP that she was receiving calls from residents about abductions by security forces.
Many other parts of Kinshasa were quiet with people staying indoors, witnesses said, but clashes between
protesters and security forces were reported in other parts of the country, with the United Nations reporting at least
Congo’s November 28 vote was its first locally-organised presidential contest since a 1998-2003 war that killed more than five million people, and was meant to move the country on a path to greater stability.
But the poll was marred by violence, chaotic preparations and allegations of fraud.
Tshisekedi had made veiled threats of violence after early results were released showing Kabila in the lead, but after unrest broke out he appealed to the people to “stay calm and peaceful”.
He asked for international intervention to “find a solution to this problem (and) take all possible measures so that the blood of the Congolese people is not spilled again.”
International monitors have criticised the election commission for a lack of transparency, and said the vote was marred by chaos at polling stations, voters being turned away and incidents of ballot box stuffing
Kabila came to power when his father, Laurent, was assassinated in 2001, and later won the country’s 2006
election. He has struggled to control marauding rebel groups in Congo’s east despite UN backing.