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Kinshasa holds its breath for DRC election results

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Riot police aboard a jeep in Limete, Kinshasa

Riot police aboard a jeep in Limete, Kinshasa

Hours away from the announcement of the delayed preliminary presidential election results, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital remains tense. On Thursday there were isolated clashes between riot police and UDPS party supporters in the Limete area of Kinshasa. Many shops and business are shut and most people are staying indoors.

Report: Clashes in Limete, Kinshasa

Radio France Internationale

“Very scary,” is how Ben Kalala described clashes between supporters of incumbent president Joseph Kabila’s main challenger Etienne Tshisekedi at about midday on Thursday in Limete.

“There are 25 police officers protecting Tshisekedi and those police officers didn’t want the ones that just came here to enter, to pass that area, because they’re not supposed to. That’s why they shot in the air. I was right in front of them,” Kalala, a UDPS party supporter, told RFI.

We spoke to Kalala just after riot police had charged at Tshisekedi supporters on the 10eme Rue in Limete.

Kalala, a candidate in the legislative elections and the president of the Congolese Community of the United States of America, had happened to come upon the incident by accident.

Tshisekedi supporters were singing and dancing. RFI witnessed no apparent provocation before the riot police went in. Tear gas was fired and several brigades of riot police riding on jeeps charged at the protesters.

We witnessed about 8 Tskisekedi supporters arrested and hauled off in jeeps. The police were also trying to gain entry to one residence where some UDPS supporters had sought refuge..

The riot police manoeuvre was interrupted when another police unit fired shots in the air. It was clear that riot police commanders were not happy that the other unit stationed near Tskisekedi’s residence had fired rounds in the air to warn them off.

These isolated clashes are indicative of occasional unrest and crackdowns in areas such as Limete. On this occasion it appears that Tshisekedi supporters did little to provoke the police. This has not always the case.

The rest of Kinshasa remains calm and quiet on Thursday. Many shops and businesses are still closed. Most residents are staying indoors until the announcement of the preliminary results passes.

Air France cancelled their Kinshasa-Paris flight on Thursday citing concerns over safe passage to the airport for passengers.

The preliminary presidential election results were expected on 6th December but have been delayed by 48 hours.

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Written by Daniel Finnan

8 December 2011 at 20:00

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