DR Congo bans protests against election ‘irregularities’

Supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu wave flags at their last - Photo /AFP

Kinshasha, (DRC): The DR Congo government said Tuesday that it will outlaw an opposition-led demonstration planned for Wednesday to protest alleged “irregularities” in last week’s elections.

Five opposition presidential candidates informed the governor of Kinshasa in a letter published Saturday of their intention to organise the march.

But with definitive results still not announced, the government said the protests will be disruptive.

“Tomorrow’s demonstrations are intended to undermine the electoral process — the government of the republic cannot accept this,” Interior Minister Peter Kazadi told journalists. “I can assure you that there will be no such march.”

The opposition leaders who signed the letter include Martin Fayulu — who claimed he won last elections in 2018 — and Denis Mukwege, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work with victims of wartime sexual violence.

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They denounced the election as a “sham”.

“We will protest against the irregularities observed during voting,” they wrote.

Moise Katumbi, another candidate and former governor of the southeast Katanga region, called for the elections to be annulled.

Dozens of civil society groups and other presidential candidates also joined the call later Tuesday “demanding the annulment” of the elections.

They said the extension of the vote over several days had “encouraged widespread fraud”, while adding they would join Wednesday’s protests despite it being banned.

“You cannot threaten or traumatise a population that wants to march peacefully,” said Mino Bopomi from the citizens’ movement Filimbi.

Almost 44 million voters, out of about 100 million inhabitants of the massive country, were eligible to elect their president, national and regional lawmakers, and municipal councils in last Wednesday ballots.

Due to numerous logistical problems, the voting was officially extended by a day, and even lasted until Christmas Day in some remote areas.

The opposition claimed there was “total chaos”.

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Extremely partial results released by the electoral commission show incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi well ahead, with 80 percent of the some 1.8 million ballots counted so far.

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