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Congo Official Dismisses Opposition Leader’s Call for Strike

Supporters of Congo's opposition hold reading 'Kabila !!! you do not deserve DRC's Presidency' during a demonstration against what many say were deeply flawed November elections, in downtown Antwerp, DRC, December 2011. (file photo)

An official of the Democratic Republic of Congo government insists the public will not follow the call for a nationwide strike by main opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Information minister Lambert Mende says President Joseph Kabila’s government is fed up with what he calls illegal acts and pronouncements that aim to destabilize the country.

“In French speaking countries in Africa some candidates have a very bad habit of believing in the illusion that they can’t lose elections. This is a very bad political culture,” said Mende. “We are fed up with such proclamations by Mr. Tshisekedi. People in Kinshasa and all over the country will wake up and go to work as usual and nothing will happen.”

Tshisekedi called for a strike citing concerns over last year’s November 28 general elections. Congo's influential Roman Catholic Church has also called for mass protests against what it calls “serious errors” in the election results.

Several opposition groups have also rejected Congo’s electoral commission’s declaration that President Joseph Kabila won the presidential vote.

Critics say millions of voters were unable to cast ballots. They say hundreds of thousands of ballots were tampered with and 1.3 million completed ballots went missing.

Some poll observers including the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center say the election was flawed.

But, information minister Mende said the public would go to work Monday to show that Tshisekedi “is not the owner of the country.”

“He is not the boss of Congolese. He is probably annoyed because Mr. Kabila is a young man and he is an old man and believes he should rather be the president,” said Mende.

Some analysts have expressed concern opposition protests could lead to violence if the government reacts by deploying security forces. But information minister Mende says the administration will bolster security to ensure civilians are protected.

“Mr. Tshisekedi and his supporters have tried often to disturb the peace, to [provoke] the government and the police and other security forces,” said Mende. “I can tell you that there would not be any reason to disturb the peace [few] Congolese will follow this irresponsible call from Mr. Tshisekedi.”