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DR Congo appeals for international support after EU criticism

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(KINSHASA) - DR Congo's government on Thursday sought "positive cooperation" from the international community after being slammed by the European Union for stifling dissent and trampling on human rights.

The appeal came two days after the EU expressed "concern" over "acts of harassment and intimidation targeting politicians, members of civil society and journalists."

The EU mission in Kinshasa also said the "respect of human rights and civil liberties were crucial" for holding free and fair elections.

The opposition suspects that President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, is trying to get round the constitution and run for office again after his final mandate expires in December. The dates of the election have not yet been announced.

"Our main demand from our foreign partners is positive cooperation," Communications Minister and government spokesman Lambert Mende told a news conference.

He said the government hoped that "national institutions will continue to receive more backing from the international community to improve services."

Mende did not make any reference to the EU statement but said that "it is not right to believe that Congolese authorities are less concerned about the basic rights of citizens than their partners."

DR Congo has one of the world's least developed economies, but growth has been constant over recent years, pulled by the country's immense mining resources including gold, copper, cobalt, diamonds, uranium and cassiterite -- the most important source of tin.

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