U.N., AU, EU press Congolese leaders to stop political violence
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By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations, the African Union and the European Union pressed Democratic Republic of Congo leaders on Saturday to urge their supporters to refrain from violence as the International Criminal Court prosecutor warned she was watching the situation.
Dozens of people died in clashes between protesters and security forces in the capital Kinshasa on Monday. Anger has simmered in Congo for months over what opponents of President Joseph Kabila believe are his efforts to hold on to power beyond his constitutional two-term limit.
Kabila denies opponents' charges. Congolese authorities have said elections due in November cannot be held until at least next year due to logistical problems in the vast central African country, a producer of gold, diamonds and copper.
In a joint statement on Saturday, the AU, the U.N., the EU and the International Organization of La Francophonie said "only an inclusive dialogue resulting in an agreement involving the widest range of political actors will pave the way toward peaceful and credible elections."
They called "on all political actors in the DRC, including the presidential majority and the political opposition, to exercise maximum restraint in their actions and statements and to urge their supporters to refrain from violence."
International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on Friday that she was monitoring the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo "with the utmost vigilance." Her office has been investigating the country since 2004.
"If acts constituting crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court are committed, I will not hesitate to act and take all necessary steps to prosecute those responsible, in line with the principle of complementarity," she said.
Congolese Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that all violence must be condemned and those responsible punished.
"The process to peacefully resolved disagreements among the Congolese people in the aim of organizing elections and consolidating democracy should benefit from everyone's support and those political figures who are not yet participating should be encouraged to do so," he said.
(Additional reporting by Joe Bavier)
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