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14.11.2011 Congo

Congolese opponent not urging violence ahead of polls: party

Etienne Tshisekedi arrives at Goma airport, North-Kivu province.  By Gwenn Dubourthoumieu (AFP)
NOV 14, 2011 CONGO
Etienne Tshisekedi arrives at Goma airport, North-Kivu province. By Gwenn Dubourthoumieu (AFP)

KINSHASA (AFP) - Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi was not urging violence when he called on supporters to "terrorise" the country's security forces ahead of elections and free activists from jail, his party said Monday.

"The statements by (party) president Tshisekedi are far from being a call to violence. We are a non-violent organisation.... It is a cry of alarm and frustration," Jacquemin Shabani, secretary-general of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), told journalists.

Tshisekedi is the UDPS candidate in the Democratic Republic of Congo's November 28 presidential election, one of 11 contenders for head of state in the vast mineral-rich African nation.

On Friday his supporters clashed with ruling party faithful in the eastern province of Katanga where President Joseph Kabila was on a campaign tour, leaving six wounded.

"Any dictatorship is based on fear... The Congolese man must shake the fear and be more self-confident," Tshisekedi, who served as prime minister under the much-feared former president Mobutu Sese Seko, said Friday.

"My way of educating the Congolese people is to remove the fear in their heads by mobilising them to terrorise those who have terrorised us for so long.... This is not a call for violence," the 78-year-old said.

He also gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to free "all our fighters" from three prisons, warning that if it failed to do so he would call on his supporters to "smash Makala prison" in the capital Kinshasa "to free by force our fighters arrested arbitrarily."

The European Union, United States, France and the United Nations, which has a large peacekeeping contingent in the DR Congo, have urged restraint and called on all sides to refrain from inflammatory statements ahead of the polls.