WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Violence has no place in the democratic process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has national elections Nov. 28, the second since the country gained independence in 1960. Second elections are considered an important milestone in establishing democratic foundations and the State Department said the elections are an opportunity for the Congolese people to express themselves freely.
"We strongly urge all Congolese political parties, their leaders and their supporters to act responsibly and to renounce violence, which has no place in a democratic process," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. "We also call on the candidates to pledge to accept the results of a credible process."
Incumbent President Joseph Kabila squares off against opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and 10 other challengers later this month. Tshisekedi sparked controversy when he referred to himself as president in a recent interview on a pro-opposition radio station.
The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office said it documented 188 violations linked to the electoral process from November 2010 through September 2011. The Congolese National Police or members of the intelligence community were blamed for most of the violence, the report said.