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article imageProtests against Congo election turn ugly in Ottawa, Toronto

By Arthur Weinreb     Dec 7, 2011 in World
Ottawa - Demonstrators, angry at the disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, took to the streets of Ottawa and Toronto. Both protests were marred by violence and arrests.
Yesterday, the demonstrators marched to protest the election held in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28. Although the official election results have been delayed, partial results have been released. The Vancouver Sun reports that 70% of the ballots cast show President Joseph Kabila with a 10 point lead over rival, Etienne Tshisekedi. Violence was associated with the election that is perceived to have been fraudulent. Those who took part in the Canadian protests were primarily Tshisekedi supporters.
In Ottawa, the protest began in the early afternoon when approximately 100 people gathered in front of the headquarters of the CBC. Protesters said the CBC building was chosen to highlight the lack of coverage by the media in Canada of the disputed election and violence in the Congo.
The group then marched to the U.S. Embassy before making their way to the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a few kilometers away. After arriving there, some of the protesters attempted to enter the embassy and the RCMP, charged with protecting foreign embassies, called Ottawa police for additional backup.
According to the Ottawa Police Service, three people were arrested, two of whom were taken into custody. One of those arrested faces a charge of Obstruct Police. During the attempt to gain entrance to the embassy, rocks and other projectiles were thrown at officers and one RCMP officer sustained minor injuries. There was also minor damage done to the exterior of the building and some police vehicles
Police used pepper spray and Tasers to quell the violence and prevent the embassy's security from being breached.
Chief Superintendent Marty Cheliak, of the RCMP's Protective Operations Unit in the National Capital Region, said, Violent protests and violent behviour are not tolerated. We encourage those who wish to express their Charter Rights to do so peacefully and without resorting to violence.
In Toronto, a similar protest took place at the same time. A crowd, estimated at approximately 250, began the demonstration at Queen's Park and then marched down University Avenue to the U.S. Consulate. The group was demonstrating against Obama and the West not doing enough to prevent violence in the Congo and of appearing to accept the election results.
Toronto Police Service [PDF] announced officers were called in to protect the consulate as well as those inside the building and to prevent protesters from entering. A small group of protesters became violent and two arrests were made.
Bantshi Mbakama, 45,and Fataki Martin, 26, both of Toronto, each face a charge of Unlawful Assembly. Mbakama faces additional charges of Attempt Forcible Entry and two counts of Assault Police. Martin is also charged with one count of Assault Police. Both men were held in custody and appear in court today for a bail hearing.
Wendy Drummond, a Toronto Police Service spokeswoman, said no one was injured during the protest although there were reports of dirt being thrown on police officers. University Avenue was closed until after 3:30 p.m. when the demonstration ended.
Global News is reporting that 18 people are dead and about 100 injured in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of election violence.
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