Congo Republic Says Thousands Flee Kinshasa Fearing Vote Unrest
Thousands of residents of the Democratic Republic of Congo have begun arriving in neighboring countries including Congo Republic fearing violence when election results are announced tomorrow, the police said.
About 3,000 people have traveled to the Congo Republic capital, Brazzaville, since Dec. 2, the country’s police force said in a statement today. Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, are situated on opposite sides of the Congo River.
“These people say they fear violence because of the tense climate in the country and specifically in the capital Kinshasa, ahead of the election verdict,” it said. The number of people making the trip was “unusual,” it said.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila leads his nearest rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, with more than half of election stations reporting, the electoral commission said yesterday. Kabila has 4.9 million votes to Tshisekedi’s 3.4 million as 53 percent of the sites reported results, the authority said.
Violence has marred the elections, with at least 18 civilians killed and 100 wounded from Nov. 26 to Nov. 28, according to Human Rights Watch. Most of the dead were shot by the Republican Guard, Kabila’s security force, the New York- based group said.
The African Union, European Union and United Nations have called for calm when results are announced. Any candidate planning to contest the outcome should do so “exclusively through the legal channels provided for this purpose,” Jean Ping, the president of the AU Commission, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Tshisekedi and his party rejected the preliminary results in a joint statement with other main opposition parties yesterday. The groups complained the figures were announced without information identifying the polling stations the results represent, making them impossible to verify.
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Mbakouo in Brazzaville via Nairobi at email@example.com.