DRC's Tshisekedi takes 'presidential oath'
Kinshasa - Democratic Republic of Congo
opposition chief Etienne Tshisekedi, who rejects Joseph Kabila's re-election as
president, had himself "sworn in" at his home on Friday as police
clashed with his supporters.
Tshisekedi, 79, who came second in the
November 28 poll, defied a police ban on his "inauguration", which
had been planned for a football stadium in the capital where police fired
teargas to prevent the planned ceremony.
With armoured vehicles of the Republican
Guard and large forces of police mobilised at the stadium, the event was moved
to Tshisekedi's Kinshasa home, where police also used tear gas on supporters
and officials of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress gathered outside.
"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
"Such a rally would be destabilising for
the regime in place," the source added of the event planned for Martyr's
Tshisekedi took the oath on a Bible after his
chief of staff Albert Moleka read a statement claiming that "today puts an
indelible mark on the history of our country which has passed from dictatorship
via the oligarchy of Kabila and his followers to real democracy."
Government spokesperson Lambert Mende
promptly dismissed the ceremony as a farce and a non-event, as well as "an
insult to oath taking".
"The head of state only takes the oath
before a supreme court," he said. "Did you see a supreme court
Meanwhile, the country's communications minister
Lambert Mende said the signal of Radio France International (RFI) was cut
several times since late on Thursday as it was broadcasting news about
Tshisekedi's planned "swearing-in".
Mende blasted RFI for becoming "a
mouthpiece for the UDPS," Tshisekedi's party.
Kabila, who has been in power since January
2001, took nearly 49% of the vote in last month's election, with Tshisekedi
coming second with 32%.
Kabila was officially sworn-in at a ceremony
in Kinshasa on Tuesday.
Tshisekedi contends he was denied victory by
Hundreds of Tshisekedi supporters
demonstrated in Antwerp Friday against the reelection of Kabila, whom they
accuse of cheating in the polls.
The government on Thursday pledged to probe
alleged post-vote police killings, as Human Rights Watch said security forces
killed at least 24 people and "arbitrarily" arrested dozens since
Kabila's disputed victory was announced December 9.
Justice Minister Emmanuel Luzolo Bambi told
AFP his office would work with Human Rights Watch to try to document each case
in the report, and that he had already spoken with prosecutors.
"If the allegations are verified, the
justice department will take action," he said.
According to Human Rights Watch, 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 stoned a priest, who later died of his injuries.
Since Kabila's victory was announced,
"security forces have been firing on small crowds, apparently trying to
prevent protests against the result," HRW senior Africa researcher Anneke
Van Woudenberg said.
After interviewing 86 victims and witnesses
of violence, the US-based human rights watchdog said it had dozens of
unconfirmed reports of killings and attacks by security forces.
Kabila's victory was upheld even after
international observers decried electoral conditions, citing problems in the
vote count and the loss of huge numbers of ballots.
HRW said that "police and other security
forces appear to be covering up the scale of the killings by quickly removing
It singled out the police and Kabila's
presidential guard for blame.
"The UN and Congo's international
partners should urgently demand that the government rein in its security
London-based rights group Amnesty
International earlier denounced what it said was a wave of political arrests,
notably of opposition activists, since the elections.