DRC opposition calls boycott over violence

By IndepthAfrica
In DR Congo
Feb 20th, 2012
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Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo’s leading opposition party ordered its newly elected members of parliament on Saturday to boycott the national assembly following a controversial vote marred by irregularities and violence.

The decision by the UDPS risks leaving the opposition weakened in parliament, where President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition achieved an absolute majority following the November 28 legislative and presidential polls that faced widespread condemnation for fraud.

UDPS leader and presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi had rejected Kabila’s presidential victory and declared himself president, although he is under effective house arrest in the capital Kinshasa.

“UDPS is not concerned with this illegitimate forum which arose from the laboratory manipulations of [electoral commission head] Ngoy Mulunda,” a statement from UDPS deputy Secretary General Raymond Khungu Mbemba said.

“Anyone who allegedly sits on their own behalf does not represent the party and will be expelled,” it said.

An extraordinary session of parliament is currently under way while the supreme court deals with hundreds of electoral disputes, before announcing the final results, which are expected next month.

It remains unclear if all MPs will obey the boycott but with 41 seats, UDPS is the second largest party and represents nearly one third of the opposition legislators.

Kabila’s ruling coalition achieved a fragmented but absolute majority of 260 seats.

Congo’s elections were seen as crucial for re-enforcing a fragile stability in the vast, mineral-rich central African country, which has suffered from decades of conflict and corruption.

Tensions following the disputed election continues to simmer. On Thursday police used teargas to break up a protest organised by the Catholic Church.

– Reuters

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