KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo should provide security for a vibrant political culture not contribute to violence, Human Rights Watch said.
DRC had elections Monday for only the second time since gaining independence in 1960. There were 10 challengers to incumbent President Joseph Kabila and thousands of candidates, including an accused human rights violator, vying for a place on the 500-seat legislative assembly.
African leaders said the election was relatively successful but took note of the political conflict that surrounded the elections.
"Tensions are running high given the logistical complications of organizing the election," Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The rights organization said at least 18 civilians were killed and 100 others seriously wounded during clashes in the period surrounding Monday's elections. Most of those who died, Human Rights Watch said, were shot either by government forces or killed during clashes between rival parties.
On Saturday, fighting between the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress and government troops left 12 people dead in Kinshasa.
"Security forces should be protecting people, not fueling the violence," said Van Woudenberg.
The official results of the DRC elections are expected Tuesday.