Blinken urges DR Congo leader to respect protests
Washington is calling on the Democratic Republic of Congo's leader to respect the right to protest after police used force against an opposition march, the State Department said Wednesday.
In a telephone call Tuesday with President Felix Tshisekedi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken "underscored the right of the Congolese people to protest peacefully to voice their concerns and aspirations," the agency said in a statement.
Blinken "emphasized the United States' commitment to supporting free and fair elections in the DRC," the State Department said.
On Saturday, security forces beat several people including at least one minor as the opposition tried to stage a march in the capital, Kinshasa. The police later said that demonstrators had ignored a pre-approved itinerary for the march.
DRC is due to hold a presidential election on December 20 in which Tshisekedi is seeking a second term.
Tshisekedi assumed office in 2019 in the first peaceful transition of power in the turbulent history of sub-Saharan Africa's largest country.
Blinken also voiced concern about renewed violence in the eastern DRC and again backed allegations that neighboring Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebels.
Blinken and Tshisekedi "discussed the importance and urgency of M23 withdrawing and disarming" in line with an agreement reached last year in Angola following African-brokered talks.