Opposition leader’s presidential bid sparks violence

A Congolese opposition supporter was shot dead and two others injured Tuesday in scuffles with police. Opposition party leader Etienne Tshisekedi had earlier announced his candidature against President Joseph Kabila in November's poll.


AFP - An opposition supporter was killed Tuesday in clashes with police that erupted after his party's leader formalised his bid to run against Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila in November polls.

The man's death, announced by medics and confirmed by the government, came when police dispersed Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) supporters demonstrating after the overnight sacking of their party headquarters.

"We have received the body of a man killed by a bullet and two seriously wounded by bullets who are undergoing operations," the source at Kinshasa's Bondeko clinic told AFP, asking not to be named.

AFP journalists were able to see the body of the victim, who was 30 years old, according to a member of his family, and also reported a third person at the party's headquarters was slightly injured in the head.

Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu simply spoke of "scuffles which unfortunately led to a man's death."

"Police began to fire tear gas grenades to disperse young militants who arrived on hearing that the headquarters of the party had been vandalised," lawyer Serge Mayamba, who is party secretary, told AFP at the scene.

According to police and party sources, the headquarters of the UDPS was attacked and partly burned during the night after party leader Etienne Tshisekedi handed in his candidacy for the November 28 presidential election.

Mayamba said that he had also heard "shots with live ammunition" during the Tuesday protest. "There was no reason to disperse these youths who were not doing anything," he added.

However, Carbone Benibeya, spokesman of the UDPS Youth League, told AFP that those shot were probably fired on by violent delinquents known as "pombas" and not by the police, who use non-lethal weaponry.

"The young man was killed by one of the armed pombas who was behind the police lines. The pombas came out in front of the police when they fired the tear gas grenades," he said.

Reached by AFP, chief of police General Jean de Dieu Oleko had no comment to make on the incident, except to say that the Rapid Intervention Police unit, responsible for maintaining order, "was doing its job."

The UDPS headquarters, in the Limete district of the capital, was attacked by "men in uniform" who "broke windows and started fires" in various places, according to Jaquemin Shabani, the secretary general of the party.

Shabani added that a television station close to the UDPS was also set on fire. He accused "men of the Republican Guard and from the special services" of carrying out the vandalism.

The television station has been accused of becoming a mouthpiece for the 78-year-old Tshisekedi, who is expected to be one of the main rivals to Kabila next month.

Police said that on Monday afternoon, UDPS supporters threw stones and a petrol bomb at an office of Kabila's ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD).

The UDPS is planning a demonstration on Thursday outside the CENI offices, accusing the electoral panel of "a lack of transparency".

Early in July and on September 1, demonstrations by the UDPS and its allies degenerated into clashes with the police.

Candidates in the presidential and parliamentary elections -- both to be held in a single round on November 28 -- have until Sunday to hand in their dossiers.

The 40-year-old Kabila, who has ruled the vast mineral-rich and conflict-torn central African country for 10 years, is widely expected to seek another term although he has not formally announced his candidacy yet.

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