DR Congo police fire tear gas at banned election protest
By Rédaction Africanews with AFP |
Congo police fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a protest by opposition supporters in the capital Kinshasa calling for a re-run of last week’s chaotic presidential and legislative elections.
The disputed vote threatens to further destabilise Congo, which is already grappling with a security crisis in the east that has hampered development in the world’s top producer of cobalt and other industrial minerals and metals.
Five of President Felix Tshisekedi’s challengers in the race as well as civil society organizations, called on their supporters to join a march on Wednesday against the poll, which they say was fraudulent and should be annulled.
The demonstration against the electoral process had been banned by the authorities, AFP earlier reported.
Interior Minister Peter Kazadi announced on Tuesday that the march would not be permitted. It “aims to undermine the electoral process, the government of the Republic cannot accept this,” he declared.
The opposition maintained its slogan and called on the people of Kinshasa to gather near the People’s Palace, the seat of Parliament, to march to the headquarters of the Electoral Commission (CENI).
Anti-riot police are positioned Wednesday morning in the People’s Palace district, located near the large Martyrs stadium.
Nearly 44 million voters were called to elect their president, their national and provincial deputies and their municipal councilors on December 20. Due to numerous logistical problems, the quadruple voting was officially extended by one day and continued until Christmas in some remote areas.
Partial results of the presidential election place the outgoing head of state, Félix Tshisekedi , well in the lead, with some 79% of the votes. In power since the beginning of 2019, he is seeking a second five-year term.
According to the latest available figures, relating to approximately 6 million votes counted, Moïse Katumbi, former governor of the mining region of Katanga, would come in second position, with 14% of the votes, followed by Martin Fayulu, unsuccessful candidate in the 2018 presidential election. (4%).
The other candidates, who were around twenty, would not reach 1% of the votes. Among them, Dr Denis Mukwege , Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2018 for his action with women victims of war rape, would be in 11th position, with 0.12%.
As early as December 20, opponents had described the elections as “total chaos” and denounced “irregularities” . The Archbishop of Kinshasa considered that these elections had been “a gigantic organized disorder”. Like around fifteen embassies before him, the prelate called for “restraint”.
Tensions are feared when the winner of the presidential election is announced, in a country with a turbulent and often violent political history, with a subsoil immensely rich in minerals but with a predominantly poor population.
“We have taken all measures so that peace reigns ,” assured the Minister of the Interior.
Additional sources • Reuters