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Congolese ‘Elite’ Attacked at Cape Town Mining Conference

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Mining officials from Democratic Republic of Congo were attacked at a conference in Cape Town by men protesting against the country’s election results, said Bene M’Poko, the country’s ambassador to South Africa.

At least five people, including an official from Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Congo unit, were attacked by a group of protestors at the Investing in African Mining Indaba conference this week, M’Poko said in an interview at the gathering yesterday.

“Two people were taken to an empty building and beaten,” M’Poko said. “They are attacking anyone attached to the government, anyone in the elite. They’re acting, basically, like terrorists, like al-Qaeda.”

President Joseph Kabila in November won a second five-year term in elections in the central African nation, which boasts the world’s largest cobalt reserves. The vote was marred by irregularities including lost ballots, contested results and violence, according to electoral observation missions from the U.S.-based Carter Center, the European Union and Congo’s Catholic Church.

About 30 protestors waved placards and chanted outside Cape Town’s convention center yesterday, urging investors to stay away from Congo, where they alleged Kabila was illegally elected.

Anti-government demonstrators in December attacked the Congolese embassy in the South African capital, Pretoria, smashed M’Poko’s car, and still make death threats against him “every day,” he said in the interview, just after making a public announcement to Congolese executives warning them of the threat.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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