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November 08, 2011

UN Fears Post-Election Violence in DRC

The United Nations says the continued repression of fundamental freedoms in the lead-up to the Democratic Republic of the Congo's upcoming election is endangering the country's democratic process and could lead to post-election violence.

The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office released a report Wednesday documenting nearly 200 cases of human rights violations apparently linked to the electoral process, between November 2010 and September 2011.

It says most of the violations involved elements of the Congolese National Police (PNC) or the National Intelligence Service targeting members or supporters of opposition parties. There were also instances of violence committed by supporters of political parties.

The report says civilians were threatened, beaten and arrested on several occasions by PNC agents simply for wearing t-shirts of opposition parties.

In one case, two prominent members of a national human rights organization received death threats after holding a press conference denouncing a constitutional revision.

The U.N. is urging the government and political leaders to promote and respect human rights. It is also calling on the international community to step up its efforts in training DRC security forces, which it says are "heavily underpaid and poorly trained and equipped."

Campaigning has already begun for the November 28 election, in which President Joseph Kabila is facing a divided opposition.

One of his main challengers is Etienne Tshisekedi, a 78-year-old veteran politician who boycotted the 2006 presidential race.