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NEW YORK, Sept 19 European nations will discuss
the possibility of imposing sanctions on the Democratic Republic
of the Congo given the repeated postponement of elections,
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday.
Congolese police and anti-government protesters clashed in
the capital Kinshasa on Monday, killing at least 17 people
including three policemen, during a march against President
Joseph Kabila's perceived bid to extend his mandate.
"What counts is the date of the elections. If the elections
keep getting postponed it means that Mr Kabila wants to stay in
power by all means," Ayrault told reporters in New York where he
is attending the United Nations General Assembly. Ayrault called
the situation unacceptable.
A senior adviser to Democratic Republic of Congo President
Kabila said on Friday he was on a "pleading mission" to
Washington to press U.S. officials to support talks between the
government and opposition on setting up new elections and not to
impose sanctions that could hurt the process.
Asked whether France wanted sanctions such as those
Washington has imposed for what it described as the violent
suppression of opposition to Kabila's government, Ayrault told
reporters: "it's a question we will discuss (among) Europeans,
but it's true the situation is very worrying, extremely
dangerous and has potential for even more violence."
The vast, mineral-rich central African state has never
experienced a peaceful transition of power. Donors fear that
growing political instability could turn into armed conflict in
a country plagued by militias, especially in its lawless eastern
Millions of people died in regional wars in Congo between
1996 and 2003 that drew in armies from half a dozen countries.
(Reporting By John Irish; editing by Grant McCool)