US slams 'incendiary' speech in DRC

2011-11-10 10:16

Washington - The US State Department has condemned "incendiary speech" ahead of elections this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo and warned it could undermine democracy in the conflict-prone state.

"The United States government condemns recent calls to violence and other incendiary speech that have recently taken place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC]," spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement Wednesday.

The November 28 presidential and legislative elections "are an important milestone for Congolese democracy and should be a chance for the Congolese people to express their collective will in a peaceful and responsible manner.

"Irresponsible actions - such as calls to violence and the proclaiming of victory prior to the vote - undermine the electoral process and are inherently undemocratic", he said, echoing similar concerns expressed by the United Nations and European nations.

Rival supporters clashed in the DRC on Monday, and the government has shut down an opposition TV station just three weeks ahead of the vote.

In the south-eastern mining city of Lubumbashi, street fights erupted between stone-throwing supporters of the ruling Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

The clashes, which came two days after similar violence left 15 wounded, raised fears that the vast country might slip back into widespread violence.

Interviewed from South Africa on Sunday, opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi said if the government did not release his supporters arrested during recent protests within 48 hours, he would "call on fighters across the country to break down prison doors and release their comrades".

The UN also warned on Wednesday that human rights abuses in the DRC could harm the democratic process ahead of the elections.

The European Union said on Tuesday that the violence and calls to disregard the law were creating "a climate of violence and political, social and ethnic tension".