DRC protest in Brussels turns violent

2011-12-10 08:26

Supporters of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi went on the rampage yesterday in Brussels after election officials in Kinshasa announced the re-election of President Joseph Kabila.

Groups of his supporters, who had gathered in the city’s African quarter Matonge during the afternoon, clashed with police in the evening, after the news came through, Belgian media reported.

Police said several vehicles had been torched and officers had arrested two people suspected of having thrown petrol bombs.

Another 200 other protesters were taken in to have their papers checked, the Belga news agency reported.

Various missiles were thrown at police vans being used to take people in for the checks, Le Soir newspaper reported on its website.

Angry demonstrators, denouncing what they said were “fixed” results, also scuffled with a local official who had come to tell them that demonstrations of more than 10 people had been banned over the past few days.

Bea Diallo, a former Belgian boxing champion of Liberian origin, was jostled and insulted by some 20 demonstrators before police came to his aid, Belga reported.

Police subsequently sealed off the district, closing the local metro station.

Supporters of Tshisekedi have for the several days now defied the ban on demonstrations in Brussels, not just in the Matonge district but also near the various buildings housing the European institutions.

On Tuesday alone, police arrested 262 people following scuffles with officers and acts of vandalism mainly targeting cars and local businesses.

According to provisional results finally released yesterday by the election commission after a marathon 11-day wait, Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, secured 49% of the vote.

Tshisekedi, it said, had won just 32.3%.

The results have been dismissed as fraudulent by Tshisekedi, who says that according to the figures his team had gathered he had won the election.

Third-placed candidate Vital Kamerhe also rejected the result and recognised Tshisekedi’s declaration that he was president.

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