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Ban Ki-moon concerned about DRC's tense political space

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon; on Wednesday met with various actors of the political scene in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), calling on them to “engage in a political dialogue” and stressing the importance of respect for human rights to ensure “peace and stability.”

The UN boss said he was “concerned” about the restriction of political space in the DRC, ten months to the end of the constitutional term of President Joseph Kabila.

“I am concerned about the restriction of political space and freedom to manifest exerted by the power of the opponents and civil society activists,” Ban said during a press conference after a 48-hour visit to the country.

On Wednesday, six activists of the citizens’ movement for change (Lucha), based in Goma, capital of North Kivu (east) were sentenced to two years in prison for “incitement to revolt”.

The activists, aged 23 to 28 years; were arrested on the sidelines of a general strike called by the opposition on February 16 against the government.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) had earlier in the week called on Congolese authorities to “stop the repression against perceived political opponents” and warned that the presidential polls scheduled for November 2016 seemed more unlikely to happen.

The political climate is tense in the DRC, where the opposition accuses Kabila, whose term ends in December, of trying to circumvent the constitution to remain in power after ascending to the throne in 2011.

In November last year, Kabila proposed holding a “national dialogue” in order to ensure “peaceful elections” but it failed to materialize after majority of the opposition denounced it as a “trap.”

Ban ensured that he met the actors of the political class who had been invited to take part in the “inclusive dialogue”.

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