Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Election depot torched, teen killed as DRC presidential campaign heats up


A photo released by the election commission shows vehicles damaged by the fire

Nearly 80 percent of the equipment for staging the December 23 election in DR Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, was destroyed when a fire ripped through a warehouse, as violence flared just 10 days before the vote.

The blaze, which officials blamed on arson, was the latest drama of an increasingly tense election campaign ahead of the December 23 election when the country will choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila.

The campaign to elect a successor to President Joseph Kabila on 23 December has been marred by deadly clashes.The president’s mandate ended in 2016, but elections have been repeatedly delayed.

Dozens of opposition supporters have been killed in protests demanding that he step down.

Also Thursday, a teenager was shot dead in the central Kasai region as party faithful gathered ahead of a rally by Felix Tshisekedi of the UDPS, one of the leading opposition candidates.

At stake in the election is the political stewardship of a mineral-rich country that has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The shooting comes after a bloody week in which five other opposition supporters were shot dead as they gathered to welcome rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu as he campaigned in the southeast.

“A young man of 17 who was singing with UDPS party activists was killed this morning by a policeman who fired at him,” Denis Kalombo, a senior official in Tshisekedi’s party, told AFP.

The incident occurred in the country’s third city Mbuji-Mayi in the violence-hit Kasai province — one of Tshisekedi’s main areas of support

Why tensions are high
By Louise Dewast, BBC News, Kinshasa

Black smoke could be seen rising from the electoral commission depot in Gombe, a secure neighbourhood housing an army base. The fire follows a series of worrying clashes between police and opposition supporters, mainly in the east of the country. Injuries and deaths have been reported in the violence.

There are at least two reasons why tensions are particularly high before this election. Firstly, President Kabila is due to step down after 17 years in power – in what could become the country’s first orderly transfer of power via the ballot box. Secondly, the electoral commission is planning to use electronic voting machines, despite many expressing concerns that they could be used to rig the vote.

The machines will be used to print ballots at polling stations. The number of ballots issued at each polling station will then be cross-checked against a final manual tally.

In the case of any discrepancy, the manual tally is expected to prevail. Despite the tensions, the majority of Congolese do not want further delays to the election.

An electoral commission official said the blaze had destroyed about 8,000 electronic voting machines, representing two-thirds of the total required for Kinshasa. The capital of four million people is home to some 15% of the electorate.

The official described the fire as a major setback, but said efforts were being made to ensure the election went ahead as planned.

Spare voting machines would be retrieved from other parts of the country to make up the shortfall in the capital, he said.

The government has accused supporters of an opposition candidate, business tycoon Martin Fayulu, of instigating the election violence. Mr Fayulu’s campaign has rejected the charge.

Mr Kabila is backing his former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, in the election.

The vote is expected to be a tight contest between him, Mr Fayulu, and opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

Source:msn Africa , BBC


  1. I tend to agree with Dambisa Moyo when she says we should not be holding elections as Africans, especially for a country like DRC where conflict, rape and murder are rife. They need strong leadership under Joseph Kabila to first solve these problems and until their problems are solved can they then hold peaceful elections.

  2. Kabila please you are rich so why don’t you just give up? If you’re not sure where to settle, just come to Twatasha, Kitwe and we will give you a plot.

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