The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed deep concern at violence against opposition rallies in at least three provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ahead of the presidential elections to be held on 23 December.
Bachelet called on the authorities to ensure that these incidents are promptly investigated, and that “the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – essential conditions for credible elections – are fully protected.”
“I am deeply worried about the reports of excessive use of force, including live ammunition, by security forces against opposition rallies,” High Commissioner Bachelet said. “I am also concerned at reports of the use of inflammatory speech by political leaders.”
Bachelet expressed alarm at reports of armed groups’ interference with election campaigning. There have been threats against supporters of political parties, notably the presidential majority, particularly in North and South Kivu.
Supporters of the opposition have also reportedly disrupted campaign meetings held by presidential majority candidates in Kwilu and Kasai provinces. A number of incidents targeting opposition supporters were also registered in Maniema province.
“In an already tense electoral environment, I urge the Government to send a clear signal that threats and violence against political opponents will not be tolerated,” she said. “I call on the Government of the DRC to ensure that all such incidents are promptly, effectively investigated and the perpetrators are held accountable.”
Bachelet called on all parties to refrain from violence and urged security forces to remain impartial.
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