Tshisekedi set for 'swearing-in'

2011-12-22 09:22
Kinshasa - DR Congo opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi issued thousands of leaflets on Wednesday calling on people to attend his own "swearing-in" ceremony taking place three days after re-elected head of state Joseph Kabila took office.

Tshisekedi, 79, has declared himself "president-elect" and repeatedly rejected results of the November 28 polls which have plunged the giant central African country into deep crisis.

"Men and women of Congo, come in great numbers to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the DR Congo's president-elect," said thousands of leaflets distributed in French and local language Lingala around Kinshasa on Wednesday.

Tshisekedi is challenging the outcome of the vote which the country's Supreme Court and the election commission said Kabila had won by 49% against Tshisekedi's 32%.

Since Sunday, the presidential guard has positioned tanks outside the stadium and throughout the capital. Police have regularly moved to break up gatherings of opposition groups.

London-based rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced what it said was a wave of political arrests, notably of opposition activists, since the elections.

The opposition leader plans to hold his "inauguration" ceremony at Kinshasa's Martyrs Stadium on Friday at 09:00 GMT, a move that could trigger more violent clashes in the vast nation.

Kabila's victory was upheld even after international observers slammed electoral conditions, citing problems in the vote count and the loss of huge numbers of ballots.

Jacquemin Shabani, an official with Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress, confirmed printing some 500 000 leaflets that were distributed around Kinshasa.

"If Kabila wants to send tanks in against the people, that's his responsibility," Shabani said.

Political figures will be invited to the ceremony but "we are not going to invite heads of state, though we will invite their diplomatic representatives here", Shabani said.

Martyrs Stadium has space for 80 000 people.

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  joseph kabila  |  etienne tshisekedi  |  drc  |  central africa

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