Police in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa have deployed across the city to prevent any further outbreak of violence in the wake of a contested national election. The army also has 20,000 troops on stand-by in the event of further clashes.
Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who has rejected the results of the poll which granted incumbent Joseph Kabila a re-election triumph, proclaimed himself president in a Friday night broadcast.
He claimed that the results provided by the electoral commission -- which said Kabila won 49 percent of the popular vote, versus only 32 percent for Tshisekedi -- were inaccurate and produced by fraud and vote-rigging.
It is scandalous and vulgar. We have done our own calculations and I received 54 percent to Kabila's 26 percent. His term is finished. I am the president, Tshisekedi said during the broadcast.
Thus far, Tshisekedi has called for his supporters to remain calm, refrain from violence, and “await his instructions.”
Kabila's administration has condemned Tshisekedi's rejection of the results.
Information minister Lambert Mende told Agence France Presse: We must firmly condemn the self-declaration by Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi. It's an irresponsible act that violates the laws of the republic.
According to Associated Press, Kinshasa police have been seen abducting young men from homes and forcibly placed into awaiting cars. Public transport in the city (an opposition stronghold) is suspended, while the smoke from burning tires pervades the huge metropolis.
Anneke van Woudenberg, Human Rights Watch (HRW) senior researcher, told AP that she has received many calls concerning abduction of opposition supporters by the state security.
There have been sporadic reports of clashes and violence, but nothing yet on the scale feared after Tshisekedi adamantly refused to concede the election.
On Saturday, Congo's police Chief General Charles Bisengimana said that at least four people were killed in post-election. That’s on top of the 18 people who died last week ahead of the election, according to HRW.
Tshisekedi’s suspicions of voting fraud is now getting some support from some western observers, including the Carter Center, which believes that some votes for the opposition may have been suppressed by Kabila’s forces; while voting in regions favorable to Kabila may have been inflated.
However, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kinshasa, Yvonne Ndegem said Tshisekedi may be playing a futile and dangerous game.
There is hardly any room for opposition to expect the result to be overturned at the Supreme Court where the result will be ratified,” she wrote.
“This means that the opposition is dependent on their supporters to take to the streets.