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France urges Congo authorities to respect constitution after clashes

French President Francois Hollande addresses the 71st United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - French President Francoise Hollande urged authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday to respect the constitution and to hold elections on schedule later this year.

Hollande, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, also blamed the Congolese authorities for violent clashes between security forces and protesters this week in which Human Rights Watch said at least 44 people were killed.

“These clashes were caused by abuses by the Congolese state itself ... The main opposition party’s headquarters was attacked and even set alight. We can’t accept such behavior in any country and I want to condemn that,” Hollande said.

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Gareth Jones