Congo president wins in kind of ‘coup d’etat’

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The United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Carter Center have noted irregularities in the election, but have urged the Congolese people to remain calm and either accept the results or present their complaints to the courts.

Last week, the International Crisis Group reported a “conflict risk alert” for Congo.

But outside a local campaign office for Vital Kamerhe, Mr. Kabila’s second most formidable opponent, supporters said international observers are failing to represent Congolese interests.

Ciza Mukibaki was an election observer for Mr. Kamerhe’s party. He said he saw pre-marked ballots at the polls and opposition observers were intimidated when they tried to speak out.

“What is scary is that the results we are going to get are not what we voted for,” he said. “Everyone is angry and upset.”

Observers warn that anger could rekindle the conflict that officially ended in 2003 but continues to simmer in the remote countryside. Known as “Africa’s First World War,” the conflict was the bloodiest since World War II, leaving as many as 5 million people dead, mostly from disease and famine.

For many Congolese, fear of starvation is more immediate than fear of postelection violence.

In his secondhand clothing shop, Christian, 39, said Mr. Kabila failed to deliver on promises involving development, education, peace and economic growth.

Between government neglect and the collapse of the local mineral trade, Christian, a father of three, said life in Congo has become nearly unbearable.

“Surviving in Congo is now just by luck,” he said as the light faded in his shop, which does not have electricity. “Everything is a hazard.”

Asked why he declined to give his last name, Christian said he was afraid that government forces would harass him for criticizing the regime.

“I’m afraid someone might come looking for me,” he said. “Congo is not a democracy.”

In London, about 300 anti-Kabila activists clashed with British police while demonstrating outside the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday.

Police arrested 17 people on suspicion of obstructing a highway, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

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