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Congolese opposition to EU: help us avoid Ivory Coast scenario

The EU needs to check how its funds are being used in Congo and make sure the country does not descend into Ivory Coast-type violence after the presidential elections in November, opposition leader Medard Mulangala said in an interview.

"We would like to avoid having a situation like the one in the Ivory Coast after the election. This is something we cannot afford," Mulangala, head of the Union for a Republican Majority - one of the major opposition blocs, told this website while in Strasbourg for talks with MEPs.

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With the EU paying €47.5 million towards the organisation of presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in November, Mulalanga stressed the importance of it being correctly spent.

"We have to make sure that EU taxpayers' money will be used to support a proper process. We want to have a fair and democratic process, but access to public media is restricted to candidates from the ruling party," he said.

Even though the situation has improved since 2006, when the EU deployed a military mission to secure the elections "there are some parts of the country where many displaced persons live, and there is violence linked to the illegal exploitation of minerals. All these situations must be known well in advance," the opposition leader noted.

"We want to avoid in the DRC a situation where - because of lack of trust, transparency and security – it may lead to instability. This is something that the country today doesn't need at all."

Clashes between opposition activists and police are already taking place in Kinshasa, due to alleged irregularities in voter registration.

On Monday, police used tear gas and arrested several opposition activists after protests turned violent.

More than three quarters of Congo's 31 million voters are registered but opposition parties claim double registration and other irregularities were tolerated by the electoral commission and its head Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, an ally of President Joseph Kabila.

Incumbent president Kabila is still tipped as the frontrunner in the race, but another opposition candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi, is also seen as a strong challenger.

Investigation

Investigative Report: Congo

Congo is the country that benefits most from EU's development assistance. What is the country doing with the money, what are its most pressing problems and what lies ahead after November's general elections? EUobserver's Andrew Willis reports from the ground.

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About Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is an Irish journalist. He studied at the London School of Economics before moving to Argentina where he worked on the business desk of the Buenos Aires Herald. For the past three years he has reported for EUobserver.

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