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Congo Denies Hollande Criticism of Human Rights, Democracy

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic Republic of Congo’s government denied criticism of its human rights record by French President Francois Hollande three days before his arrival in the country for a meeting of French-speaking nations.

Hollande told reporters in Paris yesterday that the situation in Congo regarding human rights, democracy, and recognition of opposition was “totally unacceptable.” The French president plans to spend Oct. 13 in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, for the biannual meeting of the Francophonie.

“The DR Congo of today is one of the rare countries in sub-Saharan Africa in which the rights of the opposition are recognized,” Congo’s Minister of Communication Lambert Mende said today in an e-mailed statement. Reforms of its electoral and judicial institutions are under way, “and will not be the result of outside pressure,” he said.

Congo’s President Joseph Kabila was re-elected to a second term last November in a vote marred by violence and ballot-stuffing, according to monitors from the country’s Catholic Church and the European Union. It was the Central African nation’s second democratic election after more than 30 years of dictatorship and a series of wars that ended officially in 2003.

Hollande plans to meet with opposition and human rights leaders during his trip.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

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