Live ammunition used at DR Congo election rally

718

Police in Democratic Republic of Congo fired teargas and live bullets for a second day on Wednesday to disperse supporters of opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu, killing at least one person, local activists said.

Campaigning over the past three weeks for the long-delayed December 23 election has been mostly peaceful, but flare-ups in south-eastern Katanga raised concerns of a repeat of the violence that plagued the 2006 and 2011 votes.

Police in Kalemie blocked a convoy of vehicles transporting Fayulu to a rally and started shooting into the air, said David Ngoy Luhaka, a priest and member of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace.

One woman was hit by a bullet and later died, he said.

“When Fayulu reached Musalala hotel in Kalemie he was stopped by police who started shooting and firing teargas,” Ngoy said. “One woman was killed. We are still counting arrests and injuries.”

Rogatien Kitenge, a civil society leader, confirmed police fired live rounds and teargas and one woman was killed. Fayulu eventually held his rally.

Government and police spokespeople could not be reached for comment.

Fayulu is one of two major opposition leaders challenging the former interior minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Shadary is representing the ruling coalition of President Joseph Kabila, who cannot stand due to term limits after 18 years in power.

On Tuesday, police fired teargas and live rounds to disperse Fayulu’s supporters in Lubumbashi, Congo’s second city, rights activists said.

“On the way from the airport to the venue where Fayulu was going to speak police threw tear gas, hot water and another blue liquid at the population,” activist Jean-Pierre Muteba told Reuters, refering to Tuesday’s events.

“I personally saw two people seriously injured by bullets.”

The Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ) said two people were killed in violence on Tuesday, 43 people injured and 27 Fayulu supporters arrested.

Opposition coalition Lamuka, which backs Fayulu, said police crackdowns “show clearly President Kabila and his team realise they are going to lose the elections”.

Kabila supporters are confident Shadary will win the election and routinely accuse opposition politicians of exaggerating alleged violence by state forces.

A spokesperson for Congo’s UN mission condemned the violence and called on authorities to take measures to prevent further incidents.