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Police intervene as opposition leader tries to stage inauguration

Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo fired tear gas Friday to disperse supporters of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi as he tried to stage his own inauguration. Tshisekedi has refused to accept the Dec. 9 re-election of Joseph Kabila.


AFP - DR Congo police banned a swearing-in ceremony Friday for opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi who has refused to accept the re-election of President Joseph Kabila and fired tear gas on his supporters.

"It's banned. There is already an elected president who has been sworn in. We cannot have another swearing-in. It's an act of subversion," a source close to the head of the country's police said.

"Such a rally would be destabilising for the regime in place," he added.

Police fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered near Tshisekedi's residence in Kinshasa's Liemete district and made several arrests, an AFP journalist said.

Armoured vehicles of the Republican Guard and a large number of police had also taken up positions around the capital's Martyrs Stadium where Tshisekedi had called on his supporters to attend his swearing-in.

Kabila, who has been in power since January 2001, took nearly 49 percent of the vote in last month's election, with Tshisekedi coming in second with 32 percent.

Kabila was officially sworn-in at a ceremony in Kinshasa on Tuesday.

Tshisekedi contends he won the poll but was denied victory by massive fraud.

Human Rights Watch late Wednesday released a report stating security forces had killed at least 24 people and "arbitrarily" arrested dozens more since Kabila's victory was announced December 9.

According to HRW, all but four of those in its report died in Kinshasa between December 9 and 14. Two more were killed in eastern Nord Kivu province, and two in central Kasai Occidental.

HRW said it also documented an attack where youths in the capital threw rocks at a priest, who later died from his injuries.

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