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ICC Prosecutors Visit Congo to Urge Restraint | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Congolese policemen run to their vehicle during a clash with opposition activists participating in a march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016. REUTERS

A team of prosecutors from the world’s permanent war crimes court began a five-day trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday to urge restraint after a wave of pre-election violence in the capital, a statement said.

The political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo had deepened after the ruling coalition and some smaller opposition parties agreed to delay presidential and parliamentary elections by 18 months to April 2018.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she was “deeply concerned by the critical situation and recent incidents”, particularly deaths in Kinshasa in September, which she said could constitute crimes within the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction.

Dozens died during two days of protests last month in Kinshasa against a plan to delay the vote due to what authorities said were logistical problems registering millions of voters in the massive and impoverished country.

“My office is closely monitoring the situation on the ground in the DRC, a country where we have been carrying out investigations since 2004,” she said.

“I reiterate that any person who commits, orders, incites, encourages, or contributes in any other way to the commission of crimes under the jurisdiction of the court is liable to prosecution.”

Congo’s ruling coalition and other smaller parties have agreed to delay next month’s elections to April 2018, angering key opposition groups who have accused President Joseph Kabila of trying to cling onto power.

Bensouda said the delegation would meet official national representatives as well as members of political parties, civil society and the press.