Published: Tue, January 01, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Police in DRC fire at protesters

Police in DRC fire at protesters

Patients fled from an ebola isolation centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo when it was attacked by protesters angry at their exclusion from the presidential election this weekend.

Congo's long march to Sunday's polls took a turn for the worst on Wednesday when the country's electoral commission announced that it would be delaying the vote in three opposition strongholds due to "the persistence of the Ebola disease" and "the threat of terrorism".

Opposition candidates call the delay a ploy to hurt their chances at the polls.

Vote will still go ahead in the rest of the country, with results announced on 15 January and the inauguration three days later.

The reasons given for the latest delay aren't credible, Fayulu said.

The DRC elections are to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, in charge of the volatile mineral-rich country for almost 18 years.

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu told the AP that up to 5 million of Congo's 40 million voters might not be able to cast ballots on Sunday, claiming that voting machines had yet to be delivered to some areas.

Opposition supporters accused the government of attempting to disenfranchise them, and have vowed to continue with protests to force the electoral commission to reverse its decision.

The country's election commission then moved the date from December 23 to December 30 after a fire destroyed voting equipment. He called on all Congolese to remain calm and vote without violence.

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Electoral banners are displayed in the Ndjili district of Kinshasa on 19 December 2018, after campaigning for Democratic Republic of Congo's general elections was called off in Kinshasa by the authorities on security grounds.

On Wednesday, the panel said that voting in two regions hit by violence, Beni-Butembo and Yumbi, would be postponed to March.

Kabila has said he is stepping aside after the election, which has been delayed for more than two years amid sometimes deadly protests.

Those included providing tonnes of hand sanitiser (Ebola is spread via infected bodily fluids) and the screening of all voters entering polling stations. He also calls on everyone to protect and ensure safe access to health facilities in Ebola impacted areas.

The disease has killed 356 of the 585 people infected during the nearly six-month outbreak, and one-fifth of the cases have occurred within the past three weeks, according to a weekly update from WHO. And in a separate report detailing the latest outbreak trends, the World Health Organization said cases continue across a geographically dispersed area, and although Ebola infection numbers continue to decline in Beni, the outbreak is intensifying in Butembo and Katwa, with new clusters popping up elsewhere.

Opposition supporters suspect Mr Kabila is trying to cling on to power.

More than 46 million people are registered to vote, the run-up to which was marked by deadly violence.

"The EU is alarmed by the dramatic humanitarian situation, which has been worsened by the political crisis", EU ministers said, referring to the around 4.1 million displaced people in the DRC, the 7.7m Congolese suffering from food insecurity and 1.9m children with severe acute malnutrition.

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