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People rounded up after poll demos

Police in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital prowled opposition neighbourhoods rounding up young men, who were seen being dragged out of their homes and shoved into waiting cars, a day after the government announced that the country's opposition leader had lost the disputed presidential election.

Public transport was suspended in this sprawling capital Kinshasa. Tyres continued to burn in sections of the city that had voted for opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, and bus owners ordered their fleets off the streets, fearing vandalism.

The tense city remained largely free of the violence that had been feared in the days leading up to Friday's announcement of results.

However, on Saturday evening, DR Congo's police chief General Charles Bisengimana said that at least four people have been killed in the recent post-election violence, including a woman shot by a stray bullet.

The 78-year-old Mr Tshisekedi took to the airwaves overnight on Friday to say he rejected the results issued by the country's election commission, which handed victory to President Joseph Kabila.

He proclaimed himself president, saying the election had been manipulated to ensure a victory for Mr Kabila, who finished with nearly 49% of the vote.

Observers fear unrest if the opposition leader orders his supporters to take to the streets. So far, Mr Tshisekedi has called for calm, telling his supporters to await his instructions. However that did not stop angry crowds from setting tires on fire and erecting roadblocks in areas of the city that had overwhelmingly voted against Mr Kabila.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende denied reports that the police had shot live rounds after angry youths began burning tyres soon after results were issued on Friday. He said that police are only equipped with rubber bullets, and that each police unit is being flanked by a group of military auditors, who are there to ensure that no human rights abuses are committed.

Human Rights Watch said in a report last week that 18 people have been killed in election violence, nearly all of them by Mr Kabila's soldiers.

Doubts are beginning to emerge about the veracity of results from last week's election. International observers had originally said that although they had witnessed numerous irregularities, there was no systematic pattern of fraud.


From Belfast Telegraph