London police arrest 143 at DR Congo vote protest
Police in London said they arrested 143 people on Saturday during an angry demonstration by up to 500 people against the re-election of President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Protesters broke away from a designated demonstration area to block a major road near Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office before attacking cars and shops and threatening members of the public, police said.
"A total of 143 people have been arrested during a demonstration in central London today," Scotland Yard said in a statement, adding that 110 of these had been detained on suspicion of affray.
The demonstration had begun peacefully, with a crowd of between 400 and 500 people, by police estimates, holding up placards condemning the official result of the November 28 poll, which handed victory to Kabila.
Chanting and blowing whistles in the cold winter air, they declared veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi the winner and angrily condemned the sitting president.
"He is a murderer. Nobody voted for him. We want him out now in Congo," 22-year-old student Edwige told AFP at the protest.
After several hours in one place, the demonstrators moved up Whitehall, the main street of government buildings in central London, towards Trafalgar Square, blocking the road.
"A group then moved away from the main protest and began to damage property including cars and shops as well as threatening members of the public," police said, adding: "110 people were then arrested on suspicion of affray."
The electoral stand-off in DR Congo intensified Saturday as the government threatened to prosecute Tshisekedi for claiming victory, and police said four people had died in post-poll violence.
But a statement late Saturday issued by observers from the Carter Center, a non-profit group founded by former US President Jimmy Carter, said the election had been so marred by irregularities that it was not credible.
© 2011 AFP