Congo: Protests held over delay in presidential elections

Goma: A massive agitation took place between the anti-riot police and protesters in the three cities of Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday where presidential elections, scheduled on the year-end, were postponed further.

According to CNN, the security forces used tear gas shells and burned tires against the protesters in Beni, one of the three cities other than Butembo and Yumbi, located in the eastern region of Congo, where the voting, slotted on December 30, was postponed due to rising terrorism and Ebola cases.

The decision by the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) to reschedule the voting by March next year instigated the protests who took to streets in cities, including Goma and Butembo, surrounding Beni and used stones to block roads and traffic in the city.

The protesters also included supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who further treaded to CENI headquarters in the capital city of Kinshasa on Thursday.

Earlier, Fayulu had criticised CENI’s decision to postpone the presidential elections on a Twitter post, saying, “another strategy to turn the truth out of the ballot box.”

However, a CENI spokesperson defended the move on Wednesday by calling the decision to postpone the presidential elections as ‘legal’ in those regions.

The long-awaited presidential election that was scheduled for Sunday has been repeatedly postponed since 2006. Campaigns to elect a successor for incumbent President Joseph Kabila were organised in the country amid rising tension between the militants and government forces. Citing a recent example, thousands of voting machines kept inside a warehouse in Kinshasa were destroyed due to a massive fire, earlier this month.

In addition to this, DR Congo is facing its worst-ever Ebola crisis that started in May 2018 and has killed over 320 people ever since. More than 500 people have been confirmed as suffering from Ebola in the northern provinces of Kivu and Ituri.