Congo Opposition Leader Seeks Armed Support

Denouncing the election was not enough for Congo’s opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi, it seems. He now wants supporters to capture the president on his behalf.

Posted: 12/19/2011 05:17 PM EST
Etienne Tshisekedi

After publicly rejecting the results of Congo’s latest presidential election, opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi took his discontent to new heights when he called upon supporters in the country’s military to break rank with elected leader Joseph Kabila and fight on his behalf.

"I call on all of you to look for [Kabila] wherever he is in the country and bring him here alive," Tshisekedi said Sunday in his first news conference since the election.

"If you bring Kabila here to me, you'll receive a great prize," he said, urging the armed forces to obey the country's "legitimate authority."

Although Kabila draws a large base of his support from the country’s military, Tshisekedi’s calls for mass disobedience are troubling given the country’s history of violent civil war. This year’s elections marked the second since Congo emerged from the grips of a civil war that killed nearly 5 million people from 1998 to 2003.

International observers cited severe irregularities in November’s election, which was marred and stalled by election-related violence, but the government maintains that local and international laws were followed.

"We as a government have followed every step of the constitution," Kikaya Bin Karubi, the Congo's envoy to Britain, told Reuters.

Kabila won by a 49 percent majority in the Nov. 28 poll.

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(Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)