Gov’t Bans Opposition Protest Amidst Election Dispute In DR Congo As Tensions Escalate

Gov’t Bans Opposition Protest Amidst Election Dispute In DR Congo As Tensions Escalate

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government on Tuesday banned an opposition protest planned for Wednesday over last week’s chaotic national election as early results showed President Felix Tshisekedi in the lead.

Five opposition presidential candidates called the joint demonstration in the capital Kinshasa over alleged election irregularities.

But on Tuesday the government banned the event, saying it did not have a legal basis and aimed at undermining the electoral process while the CENI election commission was still compiling results.

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“No government in the world can accept this, so we will not let it happen,” Vice Prime Minister Peter Kazadi told a press conference.

The protest’s organizers did not immediately respond to the ban – which could exacerbate tension surrounding the Dec. 20 presidential and legislative vote that will determine whether Tshisekedi gets a second term.

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Election disputes often fuel unrest in Congo and risk further destabilizing Africa’s second-largest country, which is a major cobalt and copper producer but is plagued by widespread poverty and insecurity in its eastern region.

After a violent campaign, the vote itself was messy, with delayed election kit deliveries, malfunctioning equipment and disorganized voting registers.

The CENI’s decision to extend voting at polling stations that failed to open on election day was rejected by the protest organizers, who have also called for a full re-run of the vote.

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Some independent observers also said the extension compromised the credibility of the election.

The CENI has dismissed those concerns. It started releasing results over the weekend that put Tshisekedi ahead of his 18 challengers, with 80% of around 2.8 million votes counted so far.

But the commission has not disclosed how many of the around 44 million registered voters cast their ballot, nor given any indication of what the latest given figure represents in relation to the total number of votes.

Another presidential candidate, Moise Katumbi, added his voice to the protest organizers’ concerns and has called for the head of the CENI to resign.

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