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Presidential Supporters Take to Streets in Eastern Congo

  • Heather Murdock

Joseph Kabila supporters on a street in Kinshasa, Dec 9, 2011

Joseph Kabila supporters on a street in Kinshasa, Dec 9, 2011

Within minutes after the announcement that Congolese President Joseph Kabila was re-elected, his supporters poured onto the streets in celebration. Truckloads of soldiers and police in riot gear also immediately fanned across the eastern Congolese city of Goma.

Children are shouting "number three," the number that represents their candidate for president, the winner, Joseph Kabila. Unlike in the days of the campaign, no one is shouting for the other candidates.

This 13-year-old boy, Jim, says he came out in support of his president. He is happy Mr. Kabila will extend his ten-year rule for another five years.

But even Jim’s support for Mr. Kabila is limited. Jim says if Mr. Kabila does not keep his promises, he will call for him to step down.

Around the corner, a campaign office for Etienne Tshisekedi is closed, along with all of the shops along the main streets. Tshisekedi has lost at the polls but remains adamant that he is the winner.

Nicholas Matabaro is a member of the party of Mr. Tshisekedi. He says the ballot boxes were stuffed and the election was stolen.

He says his party plans to protest, and expects to be joined by supporters of the other candidates. And although he doesn’t threaten violence, he says they are prepared to die for their cause.

Matabaro also blames the international community for sanctioning the elections - saying Kabila won because of support from outside. International observers all noted flaws in the disorganized election process, but still called for the acceptance of the results long before they were published.

As night falls in eastern Congo, the streets are heavily guarded and many of Mr. Kabila's supporters are heading home. Opposition supporters have said they plan to protest by day, and in this war-torn province the fear of post-election violence is keeping many people behind closed doors.

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