File photo - A young man suspected of being a militant supporter of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi reacts in fear as police threaten to kill him, as he lies on the floor of a police truck after being arrested.

Kinshasa - Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi's party called on Wednesday for mass protests to “protect” the victory he claims to have won in disputed presidential polls.

Jacquemin Shabani, secretary general of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP), made the call for “peaceful and democratic demonstrations,” without giving a time or place.

The call comes amid growing crackdowns on opposition party protests, including one on Wednesday in which demonstrators reported multiple injuries.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Friday declared President Joseph Kabila the winner of the November 28

vote, provoking violent protests and looting in the capital and calls from opposition leaders for the international community to intervene.

The European Union, the Carter Centre and other election monitors have voiced serious concern about the credibility of the polls, citing problems in the vote count and the loss of huge numbers of ballots.

Kabila, in power since 2001, took 49 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Tshisekedi, his top rival, according to the CENI's tally.

Tshisekedi immediately rejected the result and declared himself president.

Police stopped opposition supporters from marching on Tuesday in the eastern cities of Bukavu and Goma, whose mayors had banned protests.

In Lubumbashi, the country's second-largest city, the elite presidential guard dispersed a protest Wednesday, injuring several people.

About 30 local leaders from the the UDSP were marching toward the palace of justice to protest the closure of their headquarters.

After local residents joined the march and numbers swelled to about 250, members of the presidential guard intervened, according to UDSP member Fabien Mutomb.

“It was a peaceful march,” Mutomb said. “We were surprised to see a military arsenal deployed in front of us. The presidential guard intervened violently.”

A report Tuesday by EU election observers was sharply critical of voting procedures in the recent poll, highlighting “the lack of transparency and irregularities in the collection, compilation and publication of the results.”

On Wednesday, representatives for both Kabila and Tshisekedi said the EU report should have gone further in describing who should actually have won the election. - Sapa-AFP