Tensions have been rising in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the run-up to the Central African nation's November presidential election. In the two weeks leading up to the September 12 filing deadline for presidential candidates, clashes between protesting opposition groups and police injured several people and claimed at least one life. Authorities responded with a temporary ban on demonstrations in the capital, Kinshasa, to prevent further violence as candidates for president and parliament prepare for the official campaign season, which begins a month before the November 28 Election Day.
The United States supports the Congolese people's desire to hold credible and peaceful elections as scheduled. We strongly condemn the recent violence that has occurred in Kinshasa and call on all sides to exercise restraint. Outstanding political differences are best resolved through reasoned discussion and debate. There is no place for violence in a democratic process. We urge all political leaders and political actors to encourage their supporters and the Congolese population to refrain from violence.
A hopeful sign has been the reduced level of violence in Kinshasa for the past several weeks. Since the ban was lifted, we hope that all political parties accept the need to respect the fundamental freedom of assembly and expression, as the country heads into these very important elections.