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Rights Groups Call on Congolese Authorities to End Arbitrary Arrests

FILE - Congo incumbent President Denis Sassou N'Guesso casts his ballot, at a polling station, in Brazzaville, Congo, March 20, 2016. Tensions remain high in the country following N'Guesso's reelection.

Several human rights organizations have denounced a wave of opposition arrests in the Republic of Congo. Tensions remain high in the country following the recent reelection of incumbent President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, as the opposition has contested the results and called on the Congolese people for civil disobedience.

Amnesty International as well as several Congolese human rights organizations say the recent arrests of political opponents were arbitrary, and they have called on Congolese authorities to release them.

Christian Mounzeo, president of the Engagement for Peace and Human Rights Organization, said the group is asking politicians to resolve their political disagreements by political means and not through violence, curtailing freedom and arbitrary arrests.

The arrests follow the announcement last week of the reelection of incumbent President Denis Sassou N’Guesso with about 60 percent of the vote in a controversial first-round poll, extending his more than 30-year rule in the Central African nation.

The opposition claims the election was rigged and it has denounced the crackdown.

Coordinator of the opposition coalition IDC-Frocad, Charles Zacharie Bowao, said the secret police can’t come in somebody’s home in the middle of the night, arrest him in front of his family, and take him to an unknown place and then claim this is the rule of law.

Congolese government spokesperson Thierry Moungalla told VOA that the alleged "wave" of arrests was more of a "wavelet" since it "only concerned two people" who have been accused of compromising national security.

Moungalla also said civil disobedience is not in the Congolese constitution, is therefore illegal and should be treated as such.
The poll and the announcement of the results occurred during a media blackout to prevent the opposition from releasing "illegal" results, according to the government.

But Bowao says they still intend to do just that.

"We continue to work, and we will publish our results today or tomorrow. And we will carry on civil resistance until the real results are accepted," he said.

Bowao added that some candidates are preparing to appeal the election results.