July 25, 2006

Congo election protest turns violent in Kinshasa

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congolese opposition protesters
rampaged down a main highway into Kinshasa on Tuesday, tearing
down election posters and demanding the postponement of
historic polls scheduled for Sunday.

The several hundred demonstrators, who want Democratic
Republic of Congo's first multi-party polls in 40 years to be
delayed because of tensions and alleged flaws, clashed with
riot police who beat them with batons while market women

The clashes followed complaints from the country's powerful
Roman Catholic Church and several election candidates that
serious irregularities marred the organization of the
presidential and parliamentary polls in the vast, former
Belgian colony.

The elections are being supervised and protected by the
largest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world at
17,000-strong at a cost of more than $400 million.

Shouting "Freedom, freedom," the protesters from Congo's
UDPS opposition party threw stones and Molotov cocktails at
police, blocking the main highway into the city from Kinshasa's
international airport, witnesses said.