(Adds opposition leader blocked from departing airport in fifth paragraph.)
Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Authorities in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, asked presidential candidates to cancel rallies in the city today following clashes between political parties.
At least one person died in the violence, Kinshasa Police Chief Jean de Dieu Oleko said by phone. Three candidates, including President Joseph Kabila, had planned to hold rival rallies at two stadiums only a few kilometers apart today, the last day of campaigning before general elections on Nov. 28.
The president agreed to cancel a rally at the national stadium because “the situation in the city is grave,” Bernadette Mpundu, a spokeswoman for Kabila’s political party, said by phone.
The elections, which pit Kabila against 10 opponents, are the second since 2003 when Congo emerged from almost a decade of war that engulfed the country and surrounding nations.
Police blocked the convoy of a leading opposition candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi, from leaving the international airport in the capital, thus preventing him from holding a planned event at the national stadium, his chief of staff said.
"The police offered to escort us to Mr. Tshisekedi’s home, but that would be even more dangerous for them, especially at night, with all the people on the streets," Albert Moleka, Tshisekedi’s chief of staff, said by phone from the airport. "We’re asking to be let out, so that the people who have come to welcome Mr. Tshisekedi can escort him home."
Gunshots, Burning Tires
Tens of thousands of supporters were seen walking toward the airport just before nightfall to accompany Tshisekedi to his home in the Limite neighborhood of Kinshasa. Several tires burned along the side of the road and one civilian was seen brandishing an automatic weapon at bystanders. Gunshots could be heard.
At Bondeko Clinic in Limite, nine men were being treated for injuries, including three for bullet wounds and one who had been struck in the head by a machete. The men said they’d been shot at by members of Kabila’s presidential guard as his motorcade passed through the city.
Kinshasa Police Chief Oleko declined to comment on the allegations through a man who picked up the police chief’s phone later in the day.
--Editor: Dick Schumacher
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